RCMP cautions against using text messaging for emergencies

The RCMP is asking the public not to utilize text messaging as a method to call 9-1-1 for emergency services assistance. These services include police, fire or ambulance. Text messaging should also not be used to communicate non-emergency or emergency needs to the 10-digit RCMP detachment telephone numbers.

dialing 9-1-1 on a cellphone

In North America, if you dial 9-1-1, the system is going to direct your call to the closest 9-1-1 centre to you. There is no universal text number for 9-1-1. If you text it, it will not go anywhere.

It is important to understand that text messaging does not afford communications operators the opportunity to have a meaningful and comprehensive dialogue with the public. 9-1-1 and the RCMP communications operators must be able to fully understand the urgency of the public's need, and obtain full and accurate details of events and complaints.

There is also no way for the caller to verify whether or not their text message has been received at a 9-1-1 centre. In some cases, a text message may appear to the caller as having been received, but this is not the case. A false sense of security may be experienced because a return message stating that your text message is undeliverable is not received.

Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Speech Impaired (DHHSI) options

The DHHSI community now has the ability to communicate with 9-1-1 via SMS. They can register their smartphone with their Wireless Service Provider for this service. This communication is activated only by the 9-1-1 centre after the caller places a standard voice call to 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 operator immediately receives an indicator that notifies them to initiate a text session with the caller to determine their emergency. It is imperative to note that this method of communication is restricted to the DHHSI community. An unregistered smartphone will not provide an indication to the 9-1-1 centre to initiate a text session and the call will be handled as a voice call. For more information on T911, please visit the Canadian Telecommunications Association at Text with 9-1-1.

Should the public wish to understand the proper use of 9-1-1, consult your 9-1-1 Service Provider website or phone the non-emergency telephone number for your local police, fire or ambulance. 

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