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Public Safety Communications Managers Association Recognizes the City of Santa Clara with Special Achievement Award

Post Date:04/10/2018 1:00 PM

The cities of Santa Clara and Sunnyvale teamed up with the California Highway Patrol to lead the region to provide a service that would allow people to send text messages to 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.

Years ago, public safety answer points were designed to provide a universal, easy-to-remember number for people to reach police, fire or emergency medical assistance from any phone in any location, without having to look up specific phone numbers. Today, people communicate in ways that the designers of these systems could never had imagined - wireless phones, text and video messages, social media, Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled devices, and more.

In 2014, the four largest wireless service providers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon), in conjunction with the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), agreed to provide all 9-1-1 call centers with the ability to receive texts. Since, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale have upgraded technology and configured their systems to receive text message requests for 9-1-1 services. 

Using Text-to-911 in an emergency can be incredibly helpful in dangerous situations, if you are deaf/hard of hearing or have a speech disability. In a joint statement, on January 8, 2018, Santa Clara Police Chief Michael Sellers, Sunnyvale Public Safety Chief Phan Ngo and California Highway Patrol Captain Ezery Beauchamp began a public education campaign announcing this new service. The “Call if you can, text if you can’t” campaign was distributed on websites, among social media and received great support from local news outlets.

While traditional phone calls are always preferred, emergency texts could be a lifesaver! Participating agencies look forward to being part of a larger campaign in the region.

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