MONTPELIER -- The Vermont Enhanced 911 Board has launched a campaign to promote to widespread availability of their Text-to-911 program, and to educate the public on how best to use the service, which allows subscribers to Verizon and AT&T to text 911 in the event of an emergency where they are unable to call.
Vermont has the highest coverage rate in the nation for Text-to-911, with more than 90 percent able to use the service.
"Subscribers of Verizon Wireless or AT&T who either live in Vermont or are visiting the state can send a text message to 911 if they need help. We’ve already had cases where texts to 911 have saved lives, so we want more Vermonters to know about and use this important new service," said David Tucker, executive director of the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board.
"Whenever possible, we still ask that Vermonters call 911 if they need help. But if someone can’t call, or is in a situation where using the phone would not be safe, we want Vermonters who subscribe to either Verizon Wireless or AT&T to know they can get help via text." He also asks that wireless customers in Vermont be sure to always include as much detail as possible in the first text, and avoid using text abbreviations and slang. The text must also be sent in range of a Vermont cell tower texts sent from other states’ towers will not go through.
The campaign features two 30-second television spots, along with two radio spots, which began airing Monday on WCAX-TV, WPTZ-TV, and WFFF-TV. The TV ad first features a scenario in which a woman in a relationship with an abusive partner is able to use the service to summon the police without her abuser hearing her call for help. The second scenario involves a woman whose car has broken down, and is unable to make a voice call to 911, as she is deaf. Text-to-911 allows her to text for help, and she is informed that a tow truck has been dispatched to her location.
As part of the public education campaign, the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board is reaching out to groups of Vermonters who could find text-to-911 especially useful in an emergency. That includes Vermonters with hearing disabilities, and those who may be victims of domestic violence.
"As a deaf Vermonter, I’m proud of our state’s leadership in implementing text-to-911 services, which is especially important for the Vermont deaf and hard of hearing communities," said Keri Darling, director/trainer for Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services. "Texting has been an integral part of my daily life, and for so many others who cannot use a regular voice phone. This is an important and big step towards providing access to emergency services for all Vermonters. "