Emergency? You Can Now Text 9-1-1 From Anywhere in Southwestern Pennsylvania

Previously available only in Allegheny County, the option to text emergency services has now been expanded across the region.


Everyone knows to call 9-1-1 if there’s an emergency, but now, wireless customers across all of southwestern Pennsylvania can text 9-1-1, too.

Allegheny County began using this Text 9-1-1 feature in 2014, but residents and visitors lost that option as soon as they crossed over into neighboring counties. But thanks to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Emergency Response Regional Task Force, those borders are now blurred. 

Folks are still encouraged to call when possible, but the option to text helps those with hearing and speech impediments, or those who are in a situation in which it could be dangerous to place a call, communicate effectively with emergency services. 

When texting, send a short but detailed text message, including the location of your emergency, your municipality, the reason for your emergency and what type of help is needed — fire, ambulance, police, etc. You may be asked by the operator to answer questions and/or follow instructions.

Use simple words and avoid slang. Also avoid sending photos or videos or including 9-1-1 in a group text, too — these are features the system is currently not equipped to use.  

Deactivated phones will not be able to text 9-1-1; a text or data plan is required to use this service. The Text 9-1-1 feature also won’t be available if a phone is roaming, and some carriers are not yet ready to offer this capability. If the service isn’t available, you’ll receive a “bounce back” message urging you to contact 9-1-1 by other means.

Categories: The 412