Call if you can text if you must
The City of Arvada, along with Jefferson County and the City & County of Broomfield, offer Text to 911 service. Most cell phone carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, have made this service available.
A text sent to 9-1-1 will go to emergency dispatchers who are logged in to a secure website to see the message. If you are in a service area where texting is not available, you will be sent a bounce-back text alerting you. At that point, you will need to call 9-1-1.
Like cell phone calls to 9-1-1, dispatchers will not know your exact location. The location service for texting is even broader than with cell phones which make pinpointing an exact location more difficult. So if you are texting your emergency, it is important to include your location and the nature of your emergency as part of the first message.
While calling 9-1-1 is the preferred method of contact, making Text to 9-1-1 available is important for when calling is not a viable or safe option. This service will be very useful to those who are hard of hearing, deaf or speech-impaired.
Other use examples are:
- The caller is facing a threatening situation and a voice call could increase the threat.
- The caller is injured or suffered a medical condition and cannot speak.
- The caller is in a remote location and can only send out text messages.
- Phone lines and cell phone towers are overwhelmed and only a text message can get through.
When texting, residents are asked to avoid slang and abbreviations for the sake of clarity. Photos and videos cannot be sent to dispatchers through this method, and texts are limited to 160 characters. These limitations, however, may change as technology advances.
Residents who are unsure if their carriers offer this service should call their provider directly to find out.