911 service expands to include text

Mayor Linda Gorton today announced a new regional initiative bringing “text-to-911” to Lexington and several Central Kentucky counties. The service is available now.

“This is a huge step forward in public safety,” Gorton said. “People can now send text messages to local 911 call centers in Fayette, Jessamine, Garrard and Lincoln counties.” In addition, 911 operators in those counties can send a text to a 911 caller, for example, to check on his condition or her location.

Texting to 911 is simple, said Robert Stack, Director of the Lexington Division of Enhanced 911.

“Just enter 911 in the ‘To’ field and push the send button,” Stack said. “Texts should contain the location of the emergency, and explain the type of help needed. Citizens are encouraged to text in simple words and to keep messages brief.” Top tier cell phone providers, including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-mobile, support the service. Other cell providers who rely on a major telephone carrier’s network should be able to send a text-to-911. Please check with your provider. No photos or videos can be sent.

Gorton said while everyone can use the texting service in an emergency situation, it is essential to those who are non-verbal, hard of hearing, deaf or speech impaired. Virginia Moore, Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, said the service may be the difference between life and death for some of her clients.

In addition, texting might be critically important in a dangerous situation. Stephanie Theakston, the city’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition Coordinator, said in a domestic violence situation, “texting 911 may be the only safe option for a domestic violence victim.”  

And texts are sometimes easier to transmit when cell phone towers are overwhelmed, for example, during a traffic jam or sporting event.

“This improvement makes all of us safer,” Gorton said. “Thanks to Robert Stack and our public safety community for making ‘text-to-911’ a reality for Lexington and its neighbors.”

Text-to-911 tips and information