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National Emergency Text Service Launched

15th September 2009

National Emergency Text for deaf people and speech impaired people

Hearing impaired and speech impaired people currently access our services using Text Relay services (using minicoms and some specially enabled mobile phones).Work is currently underway to develop and trial a national Emergency SMS(ESMS) service using the 999 number. The 999 ESMS service will improve emergency access for those who are unable to use the 999/112 voice service.SMS is a preferred channel for many hearing impaired and speech impaired people. ESMS will also provide direct access to the emergency services for those who do not have a special terminal to use Text Relay services or maybe in a situation where this is not available. The 999 ESMS trial is planned to go live from 15 September 2009. Users of the service will be required to pre-register. The registration process will explain how the service works and its  limitations.

How will the emergency SMS work?
When a hearing impaired or speech impaired person is in an emergency situation, he/she will text their message for assistance from their mobile phone to 999. The system will automatically check the ESMS database to ensure they are registered. If registered, their message will route through to the Text Relay Centre in Liverpool (RNID’s Typetalk Centre staffed by experienced operators used to text communications with hearing impaired users). Unregistered mobile phones attempting to use the ESMS service will not be connected and will receive an automatic notification to that effect. The Text relay system will provide caller details to the BT 999/112 Operator and conference in a Text Relay Operator (TRO). The FRS (or other emergency services) operator will receive a standard 999 voice call forwarded by the BT 999 Operator, who will advise the emergency services operator that they are being connected to the Relay Service for an emergency SMS. The caller’s mobile number and the approximate location of the caller will be provided in the normal way (either automatically through EISEC or verbally if necessary). The TRO will read out the content of the text and the FRS operator will be expected to record appropriate details in line with their own Fire Control procedures.

Obviously, delivery of text messages is reliant upon the reception in the mobile phone network and can be subject to delays.  Users registering for the ESMS service will be advised of the potential for delay and advised to use alternative methods at peak periods such as New Year.

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