You can now text 911.
But don’t do it if you can call.
“Our team is excited to offer ‘Text to 911’ services to our community,” said Brad Anders, executive director of Knox 911. “We are proud that we can better keep our community safe and provide more options for them to contact emergency services when they need help.”
Knox County 911 held a press conference Friday afternoon at its offices on Bernard Avenue announcing the new venture into technology.
Knox County officials stress it should not be used unless placing a call is not possible.
For example, when a caller is deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger.
Emergency officials said if there is an emergency and you are unable to call, remember these steps:
- Do not text and drive
- Text in simple language, without using abbreviations
- Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 operator
Molly Anderson, a family engagement specialist with ARC of Tennessee, said this is a significant step for some populations..
“For the deaf and hard of hearing communities, people with speech disabilities, and people in medical situations who cannot verbally communicate, texting 911 will be a helpful alternative way to contact 911 in case of an emergency,” she said. “Texting 911 can save lives.”
Kathryn Ellis, executive director of Knoxville Justice Center said there are also other reasons texting 911 can be benefecial.”
“For domestic abuse victims, making a phone call for help is not always a safe option,” she said. “Having the ability to text to 911 when in a volatile situation could help victims receive much needed help without putting them at greater risk from talking on their phone.”