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Emergency Text Messaging

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Emergency text messaging, known as the emergencySMS service, has been developed by RNID and other agencies (see below) as an alternative way to contact the police, fire or ambulance service in an emergency for those who find it impossible or very difficult to dial 999.

To use the emergencySMS service, you need to register first by texting ‘register’ to 999. You will then get a reply – and you need to follow the instructions given to you in this text message reply in order to complete your registration.

Once registered, you can contact the emergency services by text, simply by sending a text to 999. The text should include your name and location, brief details of the emergency and the nature of your disability eg deaf, speech impaired etc. This information will help the crew that responds. The emergency service will normally reply to the text within a couple of minutes, asking for more information or confirming that help is on the way.

Watch Commander Tony Richardson from HWFRS’s Community Service department said: “It can be very difficult for someone with hearing loss or speech difficulties to call 999, and this emergencySMS service is an alternative that works well and can give them reassurance that they will get emergency help, should they ever need it.”

He explained that HWFRS will be promoting the service as it visits people in their homes to carry out Home Fire Safety Checks. He added: “We are encouraging anyone with hearing or speech difficulties to register now to use this service rather than waiting for an emergency. We are also urging anyone with family members or neighbours who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired to tell them about this service so that they are prepared ahead of an emergency.”

He stressed that the Emergency Text Messaging number should only be used in a real emergency (where someone’s life is at risk, there is a fire or people are trapped, you need an ambulance urgently etc), and that it cannot be used from abroad.

More information on the emergencySMS service is available at www.emergencysms.org.uk.