Text-to-911 service now available

December 10, 2020

To: UC Santa Cruz community

From: Mary Garcia, interim chief of police

Subject: Text-to-911 service now available


The UC Santa Cruz community can now text 911 to request emergency help from the campus dispatch center. Texting 911 should only be used when someone cannot make a voice call to 911.

Using text-to-911 can save lives when a voice call is not possible or may further endanger the caller. This service enables an individual to text “911” for emergency services, if their phone is capable of accepting Short Message Service (SMS) messages and Real-Time Text (RTT) messages. Not all phone carriers have enabled this feature in their systems, and so you may have to make a voice call to 911 if the text does not work.


How to text 911 in an emergency:

  • Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field

  • The first text message to 911 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help needed

  • Push the “Send” button

  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker

  • Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations

  • Keep text messages concise


Below are a few tips that are important to know if you need to text 911:

  • You should be ready to text your location, given that the geolocation technology in Text-to-911 is not as capable compared to phone calls. 

  • As with all text messages, 911 messages can take longer to receive, can get out of order or may not be received

  • Text-to-911 is not available if you are roaming

  • A text or data plan is required to place a Text-to-911

  • If texting to 911 is not available in your area or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting 911 is not available and to contact 911 by other means

  • Photos and videos cannot be texted to 911 at this time

  • Text-to-911 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 911

  • Do not text and drive