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Minnesota adds text-to-911 service statewide for users who can't call

ST. PAUL — Minnesotans can now text emergencies to 911 for help.

The Text-to-911 system network provides an alternative to calling during an emergency when it’s unsafe to speak, or for those with hearing loss.

The state’s Department of Public Safety unveiled details of the new service Tuesday, Dec. 5.

“Imagine having to hide from an intruder in your bedroom closet or witnessing a domestic violence situation. Text-to- 911 is a lifeline for people who would put themselves in harm’s way if they called 911,” said Jackie Mines, director for the DPS’s Emergency Communication Networks. “Speaking with a dispatcher is still the fastest way to receive help, so call if you can, text if you can’t.”

Previously, deaf Minnesotans have gone without a direct way to communicate with 911 centers, and an estimated 20 percent of residents suffer some form of hearing loss, according to a DPS news release.

In emergencies in which calling isn’t an option, people should enter 911 in the “to” field and text the exact address and type of emergency in the message before pressing send.

Users should use simple words and promptly answer questions and follow instructions, the DPS said. Further, uses should not include abbreviations, emojis, pictures or slang in messages.

The service, funded by 911 fees, is available statewide.

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