Call if you can text if you cant

What is Text-to-911? 

Text-to-9-1-1 is an emergency service that has been available in Snohomish County since 2015. This service is intended to benefit people who may not be able to speak for safety reasons due to an emergency such as a home invasion, active shooter, or abusive partner. The service will benefit those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired.

Send a text to 9-1-1 by typing '911' in the 'TO' field of a new message on your cell phone. Send a text to 9-1-1 ONLY if:

  • You are deaf or hard of hearing
  • You have a speech impairment
  • You are unable to or it is unsafe to make a voice call


  • You are having an emergency and need immediate police, fire, or medical assistance.

While coverage is increasing, Text-to-9-1-1 service is not yet available state-wide. If you send a text to 9-1-1 from a wireless carrier or a city/county without the service, you should receive a message saying that the service is not available at this time. Neighboring King, Kitsap, and Thurston counties all have Text-to-9-1-1, and Pierce County is working to introduce the feature early in 2019.

Though texting is available, you should always call 9-1-1 if you can. A conversation can more quickly relay vital information and get you the help or services you need. Remember to 'call if you can, text if you can't'. 

After texting 9-1-1, a dispatcher will likely ask you if you are available to talk. Be prepared to describe your location to the dispatcher. Use landmarks and street names if you don’t have an address.

A few things you should know about sending a text to 9-1-1:

  • When texting 9-1-1 for an emergency, the first message should be the address or location of the emergency (including city) and the type of emergency help needed (police, fire, or medical). Your location will NOT automatically be sent with your text.
  • Keep text messages brief and concise; using full words. Do not use abbreviations, emoticons or emoji. Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.
  • Stay with your phone, be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
  • Don’t forget to silence your phone if you don’t want to be heard.
  • Just like regular text messages, 9-1-1 messages may take longer to receive, can get out of order or may not be received.
  • Texts sent to 911 are not anonymous. Never send test messages to 9-1-1. 
  • Sending a text message to 9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming, and a text or data plan is required to send a text to 9-1-1.
  • Do not text and drive!

For more details and updates about Text-to-9-1-1 in Snohomish County go to http://mil.wa.gov/e911

Text-to-911 in the news:

KUOW Story on Text to 911 in Snohomish County

Everett Herald Follow Up to Text

July Text Update report from SNOCOM

Want to learn more? Watch this video! 


Your ability to access 911 via text may be impacted by periods of heavy call volume, priority of calls, staffing levels, available service areas, timing of delivery of text messages, and ability to determine the actual location of the texter and/or event. You should only text 911 when it is not possible to call from a phone. The providers of 911 services are not responsible for any problems you may encounter accessing 911 via text message.

Snohomish County 911 service providers are: SNO911 and Washington State Patrol


Smart911 is available in Snohomish County

Smart911 gives you, as a citizen, the ability to proactively provide important details about yourself and your family to 9-1-1 before an emergency happens. Your information is stored in a secure facility and is only made available to 9-1-1 when you make an emergency call from a phone tied to your Safety Profile.

Smart 911 will also send you emergency notifications if there is an emergency in your community.