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911: Call if you can, text if you can't

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Emergency Communications - Facebook

911: CALL if you can, TEXT if you can’t

If you cannot call 911, you can now send a text message to 911 for emergency assistance in the City of Richmond, City of Colonial Heights, Hanover County, Chesterfield County and Henrico County.

It may not be available in all areas of Virginia or the United States.


  • Call if you can, text if you can’t.
  • Send a text message to 911 if you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, can’t speak, or it is not safe for you to speak.
  • Provide the exact location of the emergency in the text message.
  • If you do not receive a reply by text or if you receive a reply that texting is not available, call 911.

Do Not:

  • Do not text and drive.
  • Do not send photos or videos to 911 at this time.
  • Do not copy others on the message to 911. Text-to-911 cannot include more than one person.


FAQs on text-to-911:

WHEN should I text 911?

Text 911 only for an emergency AND you are not able to call 911. Call if you can, text if you can’t. If you are uncertain of your phone’s ability to text, call 911.

HOW do I send a text to 911?

Enter the numbers 911 in the “to” or “recipient” field; type a short message with the location and ask for fire, police or ambulance; then hit send. Send short text messages using simple words without abbreviations or slang.

WHAT happens after I send a text message to 911?

When you send a text message to 911, you will receive EITHER: An automated text message that states, “Make a voice call to 911 for help; text to 911 is not available” OR a text message from a live, emergency call-taker who will ask you to provide more information. Provide text answers to all of the operator’s questions to the best of your ability. Responders may be already on the way, so the information you provide helps them prepare for arrival.


Note: Misuse of text-to-911 may incur penalties similar to those for misuse of calling 911.