During fires, crimes and life-threatening emergencies, the ability to communicate can make the difference between life and death. Now in El Paso and Teller counties, you can text to 9-1-1 if you are unable to talk on the phone.

This is a huge milestone for members of the Deaf community, who historically have had little to no communication options with emergency responders.

In January this year, Colorado Springs received 66 texts, and the whole region of Teller and El Paso counties received 82 texts, says Ben Bills, Public Information Officer for El Paso-Teller County 9-1-1 Authority.

To use “Text to 9-1-1”, you need to have a cell phone with a data plan that covers text messaging. Follow these steps outlined by the El Paso Teller 9-1-1 Authority:

  1. Open text messaging
  2. In the “to” field, enter 9-1-1
  3. Push the send button
  4. Answer the questions
  5. Include your address, or as much detail as you can about your location.

Keep in mind that photos and video cannot be texted to 9-1-1, and the service will not work in a group message.

Our region’s “Text to 9-1-1” service is still in its infancy and has potential to improve technologically over the next few years. For Bills, the next year will bring a focus in public education. This is an important next step, says Matthew Ruggles, Independent Living Specialist (Deaf Services) at The Independence Center. Stay tuned for workshops and demonstrations coming up here at The Independence Center.

The more people are aware of the service and know how to use it, the more impact it will have on the people who need it.

Watch the Launch of “Text to 9-1-1” Press Release at The Independence Center.