Halton Regional Police is launching an emergency telephone service for individuals that are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired.

TEXT with 911 is a new service that provides people with those impairments the ability to communicate with 9-1-1 emergency personnel.

The wireless-based service lets a 9-1-1 operator know that a deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired (DHHSI) caller needs to communicate using text messaging rather than by voice.

The service, to begin Feb. 3, is currently only available to people who have hearing or speech impairment and are pre-registered with their wireless service provider. Once registered, the caller will be able to dial 9-1-1 and converse with an emergency call operator via text.

Registered DHHSI community members will have the ability to text with an emergency operator only after a 9-1-1 voice call is made.

When the emergency operator receives the 9-1-1 voice call, a prompt will appear on the screen advising the caller is a registered DHHSI member and then a conversation can continue via text.

Texting directly to 9-1-1 is not an option for either the registered DHHSI member or anyone from the wider cellular community. The text will not reach an emergency services operator in that way.

If a non-registered cellular device attempts to use TEXT with 911 they will receive an automated text message that says in English and French, “Voice dial 911 directly, as texting 911 is not supported.”

Halton police frontline dispatchers and communicators have received training on the new system to ensure a streamlined process when emergency calls are completed by text.

“Providing the Text with 9-1-1 service to our community will increase accessibility to emergency services, and in turn increase the safety of our region as a whole. Whether a call for police, fire or ambulance, the call is important, and we need to have the resources to ensure our response is accurate and timely,” Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner said in a press release.

For more information about Text with 9-1-1 in Canada, visit https://textwith911.ca/service-availability/.

Source: Inside Halton