You Can Now Text 911 to Get Help in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- People living in the Sacramento region can now request 911 emergency services through text.

Officials say they received their first successful "text to 911" Wednesday morning.

The service has gone through testing in Sacramento since 2017 but now that it’s officially launched countywide they're hoping people in need will put it to use.

Dispatchers in communications rooms across the Sacramento region are used to taking emergency calls.

"To date, the Sacramento Communications Center has answered an average of 38,000 calls per month," said Ryan Stonebraker with the CHP.

Now, instead of using a phone to talk to people calling in for help they’re looking out for text messages coming across their screens.

"Text to 911" will benefit people who are deaf or hard of hearing and those who may be in a situation where it is too dangerous to call.

It's something people living in Sacramento, like Jessie Ott, say may be helpful.

"For people that are afraid to talk on the phone that just want the police to show up and help them, they don’t really know what to say," Ott said.

The service is already in use in several California counties and cities.

The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules back in 2013 requiring wireless carriers to send an automatic bounce-back message to people where the service is not provided. People may also see a similar bounce-back message if they don't have a data plan.

"If your cell phone is in roaming status or you attempt to send that group message, a photograph or a video, a very clear bounce-back message does come back," said Marla Swan, a dispatching supervisor with the Sacramento Police Department.

While some say they’re excited about the new technology, officials say to call if you can. But if you can’t, send a text.

Officials say language interpretation is not available yet so all texts must be in English.

For a full list of cities where you can text 911 in the state visit the FCC website.