Minnesota Rolls Out Text to 9-1-1 Statewide
Thursday, December 07, 2017 | Comments

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Communication Networks (DPS-ECN) deployed text to 9-1-1 statewide. DPS-ECN said it has worked with stakeholders around Minnesota to develop the service on Minnesota’s next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) network.

Text to 9-1-1 is an alternative to calling in an emergency when it would be unsafe for an individual to speak.

“Imagine having to hide from an intruder in your bedroom closet or witnessing a domestic violence situation. Text to 9-1-1 is a lifeline for people who would put themselves in harm’s way if they called 9-1-1,” said DPS-ECN Director Jackie Mines. “Speaking with a dispatcher is still the fastest way to receive help, so call if you can, text if you can’t.”

The addition of text to 9-1-1 also means individuals who have some form of hearing loss will be able to text dispatchers as a first contact option. Until the text-to-9-1-1 rollout, deaf Minnesotans have gone without a direct way to communicate with 9-1-1 centers.

“Twenty percent of Minnesotans have some form hearing loss. The communication barriers they experience are frightening when seconds matter most in an emergency,” said Marie Koehler, regional manager, Minnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services division. “Text to 9-1-1 offers a solution to that overwhelming problem.”

In 2014, all 104 Minnesota public-safety answering points (PSAPs) became connected to the next-generation network that allows them to accept texts. In 2017, ECN worked with PSAPS to train dispatchers and test the equipment for the text-to-9-1-1 system. The deployment in Minnesota is fully funded by 9-1-1 fees collected from all devices capable of originating a 9-1-1 emergency telephone call.

The state also provided citizens with steps to take to use the new service and best practices and challenges.

“Remember: Call if you can, text if you can’t,” a statement said.

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