It is tragic, really. The majority of cell phone users believe they can text 9-1-1. The majority of cell phone users believe their location can be pinpointed on a map when they call 9-1-1. The majority of cell phone users aren’t sure how their local 911 agencies are funded. If you don’t know what you can do, who is responding, or what resources they have, it is hard to feel safe.In the U.S., 9-1-1 education starts with the very young. Pre-school and grade school children are regularly taught to call 9-1-1 for help. As those children grow up, they soon move to mobile phones where texting is the norm and voice calls are an anomaly. There is very little 9-1-1 education in middle and high school, and few national campaigns to help people understand that texting 9-1-1 is not generally available. How are people to learn what will and won’t work if the information is not prevalent? While progress has been made among carriers and PSAPs, a national approach to Texting 9-1-1 is still over the horizon.
As cell phone users in the know, we own getting the word out. Please tell your children that, across most of the US, they can’t yet text 9-1-1. Encourage them to tell their friends. Please help your parents understand that, should they call from a mobile phone, 9-1-1 needs to know their location. Please speak out to educate others and save lives. If we own getting the word out, we can make a difference.
Monica Marics, Senior Vice President, Safety Services – West