SD will implement a text-to-9-1-1 option


Alexis Miller

When using SD’s text-to-9-1-1 program, make sure to include the type of emergency and the location.

Alexis Miller, Staff Writer

South Dakotans will soon have the option to text 911 in cases where a 911 call is unable to be made. The South Dakota Department of Safety announced the text-to-9-1-1 opportunity on Mar. 22, stating that it was an addition to their 911 Coordination Program. 

Similar to a 911 call, the emergency text will be routed to a local dispatch center. But, there are specific steps to be taken in order to ensure your message will be properly handled. 

According to Jody Heemstra, writer for DRG NEWS, people who are unable to call 9-1-1 should remember these steps about Text-to-9-1-1:

  • Don’t text and drive.
  • In the first text message, send the location and type of emergency.
  • Text in simple words; keep the text message short without the use of abbreviations or slang.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
  • Voice calls to 9-1-1 are still the best and fastest way to contact 9-1-1.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you can, text if you can’t.

Texting to 911 is reserved for those who cannot safely call, or have an impairment which would make texting the easier option.

Texting to 911 can be used by individuals who lose the ability to speak because of a medical crisis… or in situations involving an active shooter, domestic violence, a home invasion and human trafficking,” said Tanya Manus, journal staff for The Rapid City Journal. 

Additionally, it has been observed that an accidental text to 911 is in fact an issue with the current system. Texting 911 purposefully to report a ‘false crime’ or sending a ‘prank text’ will not be tolerated; doing so is considered a crime. If someone should send an accidental text, respond with a follow-up text or call 911 to report that there is no current emergency. Photo and video texts cannot be seen or received by dispatchers. 

Currently, the text-to-911 organization is fine-tuning details. As of now, texting is available in all areas except Todd County. 

Texting to 911 is not yet fully activated in Todd County. People texting 911 in that county will receive a message stating that text service is unavailable and they will be advised to make a 911 call instead,” said a writer for The Sioux City Journal. 

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