Reston Residents Can Now Get Police, Fire and EMS By Texting

Reston residents can now text 911 to report an emergency.

The new text message program is designed to be used in situations where a person cannot call 911 due to a medical emergency or safety concerns. Text to 911 is available throughout Fairfax County.

“The three primary reasons why Text to 911 has become so valuable is that it allows the person that is unable to hear or is hearing impaired, a person that is in a precarious situation where it is not in their best interest of safety to voice a 911 call or where, perhaps, a person is injured and unable to voice a 911 call, it now provides them an opportunity to using a smart device to text a 911 call,” said Steve Souder, director of Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications.

Sample 9-1-1 text

People can also text 911 if they are in an area with limited cell reception and cannot complete a call.

“Voice calls are still the best and preferred method for most people to contact 911. Remember this important phrase: Call if you can. Text if you can’t,” Fairfax County said in a statement.

Text to 911 is supported by carriers Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint and only works with English text messages at the moment.

To use Text to 911, a person types 911, without dashes, into the recipient field in a text message. In the body of the text, include people should include their location and the services they require.

The full Text to 911 instructions, after the jump.

  1. Enter “911” in the “To” or “Recipient” field of your text message (no dashes in 911).
  2. Text in simple words — no photos, videos, abbreviations or slang.
  3. The first text should be short to include the location of the emergency and who you need: police, fire or ambulance.
  4. Be as specific as possible when providing your location. Provide as much of the following information as possible:
    • Exact address to include unit/apartment number and city
    • Business name
    • The names of both streets at the nearest intersection
    • Landmarks
  5. Push the send button.
  6. Answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.

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