The 9-1-1 system has evolved to become a system heavily relied upon by the public. This reliance comes with certain expectations that follow years of 9-1-1 public education messaging, ensuring citizens that ‘when you need help, call 9-1-1’. The public has become accustomed to dialing 9-1-1 if something bad happens. They’ve been taught to call 9-1-1 and let the professionals deal with emergencies, as it should be.
While that is still the best and safest advice, most citizens are probably unaware of the technological challenges facing their local public safety entities, prompted by the explosive growth of cell phone ownership and usage.
The Tarrant County 9-1-1 District’s goal is to educate the public and manage public expectations about system features in light of technological advances.
TC9-1-1 District is keenly aware that consumer expectations for accurate and timely response to 9-1-1 calls are now based on the advanced features available on most communications devices instead of the 25-year-old legacy telephone system.
In November 2020, the ability to text 9-1-1 became available in Tarrant County. Text to 9-1-1 gives citizens another way to contact 9-1-1 in an emergency if they cannot call. Currently, citizens cannot text videos, photos, or audio. Language translation services are not available with text to 9-1-1. In an emergency, call if you can, text if you can’t.