Approximately one year ago the city of Staunton completed significant upgrades to its E911 call system (NextGen 911). Part of that upgrade provided for a text-to-911 feature, but wireless carriers had not yet updated their networks to accommodate this feature.
All wireless carriers have completed the necessary updates to their networks and the text-to-911 feature is now live in Staunton.
The text-to-911 feature will be especially beneficial to callers who are hearing impaired and in situations when a citizen is in danger and is unable to speak freely with a public safety dispatcher. Only SMS (text messages) should be sent using this feature. Not all wireless carriers support MMS, or picture messages, to the text-to-911 system.
The text-to-911 feature is not designed to replace the traditional 911 system. Citizens are reminded to call 911 in an emergency if able to do so.
The text-to-911 feature is available in the city of Staunton. Other jurisdictions may not have this technology in place at this time. All Virginia localities are required to have text-to-911 no later than July 1, 2020. As with traditional 911 phone calls, the system should only be used in an emergency.