December 5th, 2014 | General | by Andreas Seelisch

911 Texting Service Launches in Windsor, Ontario

As of December 1, Windsor becomes the fourth municipality to launch a 911 texting service in Ontario. The service will accommodate people who are deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired (DHHSI).

The Windsor Police showed off the upgrades to their emergency call centre computer programming system that will allow people of the DHHSI community to text 911 from their cell phones. The vital service will allow for contact via text to police, fire and EMS services.

In the summer we wrote about the roll out of a 911 texting service in Peel Region, spanning Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon. This service is also available in Calgary, Alberta and in British Columbia in the District of Squamish and the Sunshine Coast Regional District.

The most updated list of communities that now provide the 911 emergency texting service is posted on www.textwith911.ca. The list has grown to also include:

  • Manitoba
  • Thunder Bay
  • York Region (Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King Township, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Whitchurch-Stouffville)

According to the Director of Windsor’s Emergency 911 Centre, Lori Powers, “It is something that is being rolled out in the United States where there’s texting for the entire population, it’s not here yet.”

Powers went on to mention that those in the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired community that may want to take advantage of the service will need to register their cell phone numbers with their wireless provider.

She also spoke about a “next generation 911” service, saying “That will be in the next five years…eventually we’ll be able to receive picture, video, data, all kinds of information through 911.”

10 tips on how T9-1-1 emergency calls or texts are made?

  • First, your cell phone must be registered with a wireless service provider or else you will not be able to use the service.
  • Make sure your cell phone keypad is unlocked.
  • A T9-1-1 call must be initiated by a voice call to 911 on your cell phone.
  • Be sure that you are still within the coverage area and that you have adequate network coverage.
  • Keep monitoring your phone to make sure you are still connected.
  • When the call is connected an initial text message will be sent to your cell phone. It’s advised that since calls made with this service may take longer to initiate, particularly during peak times, you should be patient. However, if this message isn’t received within a few minutes it’s advised to try again or find an alternate way to contact 911, such as asking someone else to make the call on your behalf.
  • The message you receive should be 13 digits long and begin with 555911.
  • If possible, the voice call should be left connected throughout your text messaging session with the 911 operator. This allows the operator to hear background noises that may assist with assessing the nature of the emergency, which enables the provision of enhanced 911 functions.
  • Your text messages should be as brief and concise as possible.
  • Once the 911 session has ended you will receive a text message saying “End of 9-1-1 call.

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