Rest Easy, You Can Now Text To 911 Emergency Lines

Imagine that you're a 911 dispatcher and you receive a text message that reads, "OMG, sned hlp nao! Its an emergency! no joke, lol!" That's something emergency responders are going to have to figure out, because as of now, all four major wireless carriers in the U.S. -- Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint -- are offering text-to-911 service in select areas.

It's easy to see the logic behind the move. After all, nearly everyone owns a mobile phone these days, and if you're in a situation where making a voice call just isn't feasible -- perhaps you're locked in a closet as a burglar paces back and forth deciding what to do with you, or you've been tied up and gagged but can still reach your pockets -- a text message calling for help could mean the different between life and death. Fair enough.

Police Text
Image Source: Flickr (Mo Riza)

At the same time, law enforcement suddenly has the unenviable task of discerning between legitimate cries for help and prank texts. Fortunately, there's still time to figure that out -- text-to-911 isn't yet available in every single market, which could still be years away. In the meantime, major wireless carriers have agreed to send bounce-back messages to anyone who sends a text to 911 where the service is not yet available.

This is a work in progress and there are a lot of dates involved. If you get a chance, visit the FCC's text-to-911 page and familiarize yourself with roll out.