Text-to-9-1-1 Service Launched by Ulster County Department of Emergency Services

Posted May 4, 2023


KINGSTON, NY - On Monday, May 1, 2023, the Ulster County Department of Emergency Services, Division of Emergency Communications launched a Text–to–9-1-1 service for Ulster County. This new service allows wireless customers to send a text–to–9-1-1 in an emergency when voice calls are inappropriate, ineffective, or unsafe. The Ulster County Department of Emergency Services launched a soft go-live last week and began receiving text messages. Of the three 9-1-1 text messages received, two of them resulted in arrests. 

"I am thrilled to announce that our Department of Emergency Services has launched a new Text-to-9-1-1 service, which will enable people to get the help they need in an emergency situation when calling is not a viable or safe option,” said Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger. "This new service can save lives when the caller is deaf, hearing or speech-impaired, or in situations that are too dangerous to make a voice call. I want to commend Ulster County Emergency Services Director Everett Erichsen and Deputy Director and 9-1-1 Coordinator Andrew Cafaldo for introducing this public safety service."

"In today's world, there are many technological tools at people’s disposal to make their lives easier. In the case of Text-to-9-1-1, this gives the residents and visitors of Ulster County an alternative means to initiate Emergency Services in the event it is needed when they are not able to call 9-1-1 and remain on the line to speak,” said Deputy Director of Emergency Services/9-1-1 Coordinator Andrew Cafaldo. “Dialing 9-1-1 and talking to our dispatchers should still be the primary means of initiating Emergency Services as it will be the fastest, but having this alternative is a huge step forward for Ulster County,” 


"Implementing Text-to-9-1-1 is a critical step forward in improving accessibility to Emergency Services for individuals who may not be able to make a voice call in an emergency situation. It is important that we continue to leverage technology to ensure that Emergency Services are available to everyone in need, regardless of their communication abilities," said Director of Emergency Services Everett Erichsen.


Voice calls to 9-1-1 are still the best and fastest way to contact emergency services. Text to 9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency when placing a call is not possible: for instance, if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger.  Text-to-9-1-1 is specific to Ulster County and not available everywhere in New York State and the U.S.


If there is an emergency and you are unable to make a call, remember these steps:

  • Don’t text and drive.

  • In the first text message, send the location and type of emergency.

  • Text in simple words - send a short text message in English without abbreviations or slang.  If a translator is needed, you must call 911. 

  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.


Don’t Abuse 9-1-1—Text-to-9-1-1 service is ONLY for emergencies.

  • It is a crime to text or call 9-1-1 with a false report. 


The Text-to-9-1-1 service may have many challenges.

  • A text or data plan is required to place a Text-to-9-1-1

  • As with all text messages, messages to 9-1-1 may take longer to receive and process, may get out of order, or may not be received at all.

  • If you do not receive a text response from 9-1-1, try to contact 9- 1-1 another way.

  • Photos, videos, and emojis cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.

  • Text-to-9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1.



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