In the 21st century, traditional 911 services are increasingly being augmented by Text-to-911 options, intended for use in emergencies where the caller can’t talk…

The Milpitas Police Department (MPD) is now offering just such a service. In a press release, the MPD made clear that the Text-to-911 option isn’t intended to replace the standard call-in version of 911, which is still the fastest way of getting help.

But when callers have impairments in terms of speaking or hearing, be they temporary or permanent, Text-to-911 is an effective way of summoning emergency services without having to pick up the phone and make a regular voice call.

Text-to-911 isn’t just useful for those with medical issues in terms of speech or hearing. In the case of situations where a silent “call” to 911 is safer — as in a home invasion or domestic violence scenario — Text-to-911 is a safer and more stealthy option.

Texters are advised to text in their location and what kind of help is needed during a given emergency. The MPD instructs users not to send photos, videos, or emojis. If your phone’s text feature isn’t set to silent, note that reply texts from 911 staff might be audible to anyone within earshot. So if you expect to rely on Text-to-911 in the event of an emergency, it might be wise to silence your text feature now.  

Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro is a writer and filmmaker. He is the author of six critically acclaimed fiction books, among them the novella "It's Only Temporary" (2005), which appeared on Nightmare Magazine's list of the Top 100 Horror Books, and numerous short stories published in anthologies alongside work by H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and many others. His nonfiction articles have been published on The Daily Dot, Ravishly, and The Good Men Project. His first feature film, "Rule of 3" (2010), won awards at the Fantasia International Film Festival and Shriekfest, and had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest. His second feature film, "Living Things" (2014), was endorsed by PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) and distributed by Cinema Libre Studio. In 2015, he won the 19th Annual Fade In Award for Thriller Screenplays. He was a founding partner of Ghostwriters Central, a writing and editing firm which received positive notices from The Wall Street Journal, Consumers Digest, and the TV program "Intelligence For Your Life." Eric has edited works published on The Huffington Post and Forbes, as well as two Bram Stoker Award-nominated novels.

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