Residents Can Now Text 9-1-1 for Emergencies
The Huntsville-Madison County 9-1-1 Center (HMC 9-1-1), which has served Huntsville, Madison, and Madison County since 1992, has launched a new text-to-9-1-1 service, providing a significant step forward in accessibility to those who are unable to dial 9-1-1. This service, offered in conjunction with the Alabama 9-1-1 Board and its network provider, INdigital, is available to those who have cellular service with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, SouthernLINC, or Sprint.
Text-to-9-1-1 should be considered a secondary option only to dialing 9-1-1 from a cellular or landline phone and should be limited to the following circumstances:
- When calling 9-1-1 is not possible, such as if the caller is deaf, hearing or speech impaired;
- If a caller is otherwise unable to speak, because of a medical condition (such as a stroke), or
- If speaking would be unsafe, as in the case of abduction, domestic violence, or home invasion.
This service also allows HMC 9-1-1 to respond to text messages to not only confirm if an emergency response is needed but to also confirm whether or not an accidental call to 9-1-1 was made.
“Text-to-9-1-1 provides another layer of service that will greatly enhance safety for the community we serve,” said Chris Tucker, Chief Operating Officer & 9-1-1 Director, HMC 9-1-1. “Although recommended as the second option for contacting 9-1-1, text messaging is one of the primary ways people communicate today; by having this option we’re able to ensure anyone who may not be able to dial our team receives emergency service when and where they need it.”
Major advancements for HMC 9-1-1 have been a focal point for the past several years, especially since the center is the largest and most advanced emergency operations center in the state of Alabama. Recently moving into a new 30,000 square foot facility, the center has aligned its growth ahead of the expanding population and is currently home to eight agencies.
“Having the ability to send text messages to 9-1-1 is a gamechanger for the deaf community,” said Frances Smallwood, President and Founder of Deaf Access, Inc. “Those who are deaf or hard of hearing struggle with things that we often take for granted; having direct and easy access to emergency personnel when it could be a matter of life or death is paramount, and something that can potentially save lives.”