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Recent decision will allow emergency texting to 911

A recent news story (NBC and CNN, April 15) described the need for 911 calls to be received as voice or text. An instance was described where an emergency call had to be made in the presence of a robber with a gun. Texting would have made it possible to call for help.

Thus, the FCC stated that by May 15, 2014, texting 911 will be possible across the country.

What isn’t known generally or explained by the media is an additional safety net provided by the ability to text in an emergency. Texting from a cell phone, or receiving a text does not require the same bandwidth as a voice call. Thus, you may be able to text when your phone shows no bars. The same is true if you are trying to reach someone you fear is in trouble but out of voice range. Try texting.



This capability made the news a few months ago in the Sacramento area when a person ran off the road and overturned in a ditch. He was trapped, had no bars on his phone, but was able to text a friend. So keep this in mind if you get in trouble before 911 texting becomes possible.

The ringing signal to your phone is also a form of texting by your carrier. Thus, you may not be able to answer the call, but may be able to see who called in a weak signal area. If it’s important, try texting back. In an emergency try texting several times, each time moving a short distance.




Texts go out as short bursts and you will have a better chance of your message getting through. Finally, it’s always a good idea to know how to use your cellphone in such a manner in case you have to. Try exchanging texts with a friend when neither of you have any bars.

Bruce Rayner

Nevada City


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