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Ask the Chief: Text to 911 available for Minnesotans

"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Q: Can I text 911 for an emergency in Red Wing?

A: Thank you for your question, as of Dec. 5, 2017, text to 911 is now available in Red Wing and throughout the state of Minnesota. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Communication Network announced in a press release recently, this latest development to the Next Generation 911 network. However, the most effective and fastest way to get help is to speak with a dispatcher, as they say "call when you can, text if you can't."

Text to 911 exists to aid the 20 percent of Minnesotans that have some form of hearing loss with contacting help in an emergency, and to provide an alternative for someone that is in such a dangerous situation that voice communications could put them at an increased risk of danger. Text to 911 will continue to improve, presently text to 911 in southeast Minnesota is received by the Olmsted County dispatch center and forwarded to the appropriate jurisdiction. Goodhue County dispatch expects to receive text to 911 by March 2018.

When texting to 911 take these steps:

• Enter the numbers 911 in the "to" field.

• Text your exact address and type of emergency.

• Send the message.

• Use simple words, but do not include abbreviations, emoji's, pictures or slang.

• Promptly answer questions and follow instructions.

Listed below are some facts/information to keep in mind when using text to 911:

• Dispatchers prefer calls as immediate feedback is received, voice inflection and background noises can aid in response.

• List your location, as text messages do not provide an accurate location, as voice calls will.

• Text to 911 may receive a bounce back if you are roaming, this may occur along state borders as the nearest tower may be in another state that may not have the ability to text to 911.

• There is no language translation available for text to 911.

• Do not text and drive.

• Texts to 911 can get out of order or may not be received at all.

• Dispatchers cannot control the speed of delivery, or even guarantee if a text message will be received. That is up to your cell phone network.

• Usual charges will apply to texts made to 911.

Remember "Call if you can, text if you can't." 

Reference:

1. Minnesota Department of Public Safety news release dated Dec. 5, 2017.

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