Special Info


Call if you can text if you can’t.

Can I send a text to 9-1-1?

Yes. Cellular customers living in or traveling through the Northwest Central Dispatch System service area may be able to use their mobile phones to send a text message to 911 for emergency help. Northwest Central Dispatch System serves the Villages of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Schaumburg and Streamwood and the City’s of Prospect Heights and Rolling Meadows.
Texting should only be used during an emergency when you are unable to make a voice call to 9-1-1.
How to text 9-1-1 in an emergency:

  • Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field;
  • The first text message to 9-1-1 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help needed;
  • Push the “Send” button.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
  • Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations.
  • Keep text messages brief and concise.
Below are a few things to know if you need to text 9-1-1:

  • Text location information is not equal to current location technology.
  • As with all text messages, 9-1-1 messages can take longer to receive, can get out of order or may not be received.
  • Text-to-9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a text-to-9-1-1
  • If texting to 9-1-1 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting 9-1-1 is not available and to contact 9-1-1 by other means.
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.
  • Text-to-9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1.
Do not text and drive!

Questions and Answers About Text-to-9-1-1
(NENA The 9-1-1 Association)

What is text-to-9-1-1?
Text-to-9-1-1 refers to the ability to send text messages to local 9-1-1 call centers during an emergency. Despite growing reliance on text messaging by millions of consumers, almost all 9-1-1 call centers today cannot receive text messages; they can only receive voice calls, about two-thirds of which are from wireless phones. A limited amount of caller data is automatically provided to the call centers, such as the caller’s location, which may be only approximate if the call is placed from a wireless phone or a large, multi-unit building.

In a Next Generation 9-1-1 environment, consumers will be able to make voice, text, or video "calls" from any communications device via Internet Protocol-based networks. Such calls may provide additional useful information to the 9-1-1 center, such as the caller’s medical history (if pre-approved by the caller), the schematics of a building, or images of an accident scene.

What are the benefits of text-to-9-1-1?

There will be many significant benefits to consumers, especially in cases when the caller cannot communicate verbally. For example, text-to-9-1-1 will be very useful to the approximately 34 million Americans who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired. Text-to-9-1-1 could also help in situations when a crime is in process; the caller is facing domestic abuse; the caller is injured and cannot speak; or other scenarios.

When will text-to-9-1-1 be broadly available?
Under a historic agreement reached in December 2012 between NENA , the "Big 4” wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO), text-to-9-1-1 capabilities will be in place on those four carriers’ networks by May 2014. However, this does not mean that text-to-9-1-1 service will be available to all consumers by 2014; the actual availability will also hinge on the deployment of new systems and training at more than 6,000 9-1-1 centers across America.

That said, the “Big 4” agreement – and subsequent action by the FCC to begin codifying that agreement -- is expected to hasten the day when all Americans can call for emergency aid via text messages.

NOTE: Until text-to-9-1-1 service is implemented in a given area, texters in those areas will receive an automatic “bounce-back” message indicating that text-to-9-1-1 is not yet available, and advising to use another method to contact emergency authorities.

Even when text-to-9-1-1 becomes widely available, the best way to contact 9-1-1 will continue to be via voice communications whenever possible.
Do not text and drive!