Emergencies need immediate assistance to save a life, stop a crime or report a fire.  These situations require a response from emergency medical services, law enforcement, or the fire department.  

It is better and faster to reach out for help by calling 911.  There are other times when it's not possible to call to get help. If you are in a situation where you are unable to call 911, you can now Text to 911.  Learn more about when and how below.

Note: If the situation does not require immediate attention, contact the agencies' non-emergency numbers.

​During an emergency when it is unsafe to make a phone call.
​If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability.
​In a medical emergency when you are unable to speak on the phone.

1. Type 911 in the text message "To" field. 

2. Do not send a group text.

3. Include your exact location & type of emergency.

4. Press the "Send" button.

5. Answer any questions you receive.

6. Follow instructions if they're given.

7. Avoid abbreviations, slang & emojis.

8. Keep messages to 160 characters or less.

9. If you have video, photos or live stream to share, let the call taker know.

10. Wait for the call taker to send you a link; once you receive the link you will be able to share.


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Use this tool kit of resources to share information about Text to 911.  

Check back for new content as it is developed.

When should I use text to 911 instead of making a phone call?

Call if you can, text if you can’t. Texting to 911 is useful for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability. It can be used if you lose your ability to speak while experiencing a medical crisis. It also is an appropriate choice if you can’t safely make a voice call during an active shooter, home invasion or domestic violence situation.

How do I text to 911?

Enter 911 in the “To” field. Do not use dashes between the numbers. Give your exact location and type of emergency. Keep it brief. Hit the send button. Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.

Do I put dashes between the numbers in 911 when I text?

Do not use dashes. Just enter the numbers 911.

Are there any things I should NOT do when texting to 911?

  • Do not use slang, abbreviations, GIFs or emojis. 
  • Do not group text. A text to 911 cannot include more than one person. 
  • Do NOT text and drive.
Can I send photos and videos to 911?

Yes, it is now possible to send photos and videos to 911. If you have a photo or video that will help first responders understand the emergency, what is happening, or where to find you, the 911 call taker will text you a link to open a livestream or upload your image or video file. 

What if I text a photo or video to 911 without getting the link?

The photo or video will not be sent. Our 911 call taker must start this process by sending you a link to upload your photo or video.

If I text to 911, will the emergency call center automatically know my location?

Next Generation 911 has highly advanced location accuracy. Call takers will have a map to show exactly where the call comes from, and they will have the ability to immediately transfer that information to the right first responders. It is still very important to know the location of your emergency, however. This can confirm what the 911 call center is seeing and will help the responders get there as quickly as possible.

When I call or text 911, will medical information stored on my cell phone go straight to the call center?

If you use an Apple iPhone and have set up your Medical ID in the included Health App, any Medical ID information you have entered will be shared with our 911 call takers. That includes general health status, preexisting conditions, and emergency contact information. All of this can be very helpful when passed on to first responders on their way to the emergency.  

If you have an iPhone and would like instructions for setting up a Medical ID in the included Health app, you can find them here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207021.

If you are not an iPhone user, you can create a free Emergency Health Profile registered to your mobile phone number here: https://www.emergencyprofile.org/.

What if I'm in a moving vehicle?

You are tracked as you move between cell tower locations. You will remain connected to the emergency call center until the text conversation is released by the 911 call taker.

What happens during a text conversation with the 911 call taker?

The call taker will ask you to make a voice call if possible. If that is not possible, you will be asked questions and given instructions just as you would during a voice call.

Can I text in another language?

Lee County residents can text to 911 in English or Spanish. 

Is texting faster than calling 911?

No. Voice calls are a better way to request help during an emergency. Call takers get a great deal of information from background noise, changes in voice and breathing and other sounds. Also, there are longer delays when you are texting. Speaking is more efficient than writing, sending, and receiving texts.

Do emergency texts receive priority?

Mobile carriers handle texts to 911 like any other message. You can experience the same service speeds or delays, depending on network strength in your area.

Is a text or data plan required to text to 911?

Yes, you need an active text or data plan to text to 911.

Is there an extra charge to text to 911?

Texting to 911 has no extra charge beyond your mobile carrier's regular rates.

Do I need to opt-in to anything before I can text to 911?

There is no opt-in step. If you have a phone capable of texting, and an active text or data plan, you will be able to text to 911.

Is there a character limit?

Texts to 911 have a 160 character limit. Longer messages can be broken up for delivery and may be received out of order, which can cause confusion. Keep messages simple and to the point.

What if my text bounces back?

If you attempt to send a text to 911 in an area where the service is not available due to signal strength or carrier limitations, you should receive an automatic bounce-back message to contact emergency services by another means, such as making a voice call. This is to make sure you know your 911 text has not gotten through to our emergency call center.

Will text to 911 work if my phone is in roaming status?

If you try to text to 911 while your phone is roaming, you should receive a bounce-back message that the service is unavailable and to contact emergency services by another means, such as making a voice call to 911.

What if I text to 911 by accident?

If you accidentally send a text to 911, send a follow-up text to let our call takers know there is not an actual emergency. Texting to 911 with a false report, or sending a "test" text, is a crime.

What do I do while help is on the way?

Stay in the conversation just as you would stay on the line during a voice call. Do not delete the texts or turn off your phone until the call taker tells you it's time.

Can I use apps to text?

Text messaging apps that only support texting with other app users, or texting via social media, are not required to support text to 911. The text to 911 rules also do not apply to text messaging applications that do not support texting to and from U.S. phone numbers.

Is tweeting to 911, messaging on Facebook, or using other social media, a way to get through?

No, you cannot reach a 911 call taker to report an emergency on Twitter, Facebook, or any other form of social media. The only way to contact our emergency call center is to make a voice call to 911 or text to 911.

Will text to 911 work on a Lifeline phone?

This depends on the services you have on the phone. If there is no text service on the phone, there is no text to 911. This is the same for all wireless phones. The mobile device you text from requires a mobile phone number with a wireless carrier which allows the device to send and receive text messages.

911 Program Focus 

The primary focus of the E911 Program is in three common areas: Technology, Service, and Training 


The number 9-1-1 was approved by the federal government in March 1973 to be reserved as a designated number for reporting an emergency and requesting assistance. The Florida Emergency Telephone Act passed in 1974 and was adopted by the Lee County Board of Commissioners by resolution on Jan. 30, 1985. The Lee County Enhanced 9-1-1 System (E9-1-1) became fully functional on April 7, 1987. 


In accordance with Florida Statutes 365.171-175, the mission of the E9-1-1 Program is “to carry out the directives of​ the Board of the Lee County Commissioners, to accomplish the objectives of the Florida State Plan, to meet or exceed the technical and operational standards for 9-1-1 systems and to keep the Board advised of the status of the 9-1-1 Program.”