Text-to-911 Press Release

By June 25, 2019 Writing Samples

This press release announced an outreach and education campaign that Northbranch Media conducted on behalf of the state of Vermont. To watch the PSAs created for the campaign, scroll to the end.

Vermont Enhanced 911 Board Launches Statewide Public Education Campaign for Text-to-911

Television and Radio Ads Feature Scenarios Where Text-to-911 Has Saved Lives

Montpelier, Vt. (Sept. 23, 2013) – Vermont has the highest coverage rate in the nation for text-to-911 service, with more than 90 percent of people in the state being able to send a text message to 9-1-1 to receive emergency assistance. To encourage Vermonters to use text-to-911 if they need help and cannot make a voice call, the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board today launched a campaign to promote the widespread availability of text-to-911 and educate the public about how to use it.

“Subscribers of Verizon Wireless or AT&T who either live in Vermont or are visiting the state can send a text message to 911 if they need help. We’ve already had cases where texts to 911 have saved lives, so we want more Vermonters to know about and use this important new service,” said David Tucker, executive director of the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board.

To get the word out to Vermonters, the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board has created two new 30 second television ads and two new 60 second radio ads. One of the television ads — which began airing today on WCAX-TV, WPTZ-TV, and WFFF-TV – features a situation where a woman in a relationship with an abusive partner sends a text to 911 to summon the police without her abuser hearing her calling for help.

The other television ad features a scenario where a woman’s car has broken down on a deserted back road. Unable to make a voice call to 911 because she is deaf, the woman instead sends a text message to 911 and quickly receives a response that a tow truck has been dispatched to her location.

In addition to the scenarios covered in the television spots, one of the radio ads features a situation where burglars have broken into a home while the family is sleeping upstairs. Woken up by the noise of the thieves downstairs, the homeowners send a text to 911 to alert the police, without risking the possibility of the burglars hearing them using the phone to call for help. The radio ads will air on The Point-FM, WDEV, and other Vermont stations.

“In all of these ads, we portray situations where text-to-911 could be the best way to receive emergency assistance,” Tucker said. “Whenever possible, we still ask that Vermonters call 911 if they need help. But if someone can’t call, or in a situation where using the phone would not be safe, we want Vermonters who subscribe to either Verizon Wireless or AT&T to know they can get help via text.”

As part of the public education campaign, the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board is reaching out to groups of Vermonters who could find text-to-911 especially useful in an emergency. That includes Vermonters with hearing disabilities, and those who may be victims of domestic violence.

“As a deaf Vermonter, I’m proud of our state’s leadership in implementing text-to-911 services, which is especially important for the Vermont deaf and hard of hearing communities,” said Keri Darling, director/trainer for Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services. “Texting has been an integral part of my daily life and for so many others who cannot use a regular voice phone. This is an important and big step towards providing access to emergency services for all Vermonters.”

“911 emergency response can literally be a lifeline for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. However, victims of these crimes can experience terrifying moments of immediate danger during which it may not be possible to make a phone call without a risk of escalating the violence. Having the ability to text emergency messages to 911 opens up one more possible avenue of safety and support for victims in potentially life-threatening situations. We commend Vermont’s Enhanced 911 Board and our wireless carriers for making this groundbreaking service available to Vermonters,” said Sarah Kenney, associate director of public policy at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Wireless customers in Vermont using text-to-911 should always keep the following in mind:

  • Customers should use the texting option only when calling 9-1-1 is not an option.
  • The first text message sent should always include clear location information and the nature of the emergency.
  • Text abbreviations and slang should never be used.
  • Customers of Verizon Wireless or AT&T must be physically inside the carriers’ wireless network coverage footprint in Vermont.
  • As is the case with calling 9-1-1, customers should only text-to-911 for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire, or emergency medical services.