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Gov. Branstad designates April as 911 Education Month


DES MOINES – Governor Terry E. Branstad has designated April as 911 Education Month in Iowa. Sponsored by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) and the Iowa 911 Communications Council, 911 Education Month is an opportunity to demonstrate to all Iowans the importance of 911 and the role they play in ensuring effective emergency response.


Additionally, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) recognizes April as National 911 Education Month.


HSEMD is nearing completion of an upgrade to Iowa’s 911 network to an Internet Protocol (IP)-based system, which is more robust and capable of handling new messaging technology. It is expected Text-to-911 will be available in all Iowa counties by this summer.


Text-to-911 allows cell phone users to send a text message to 911 in an emergency. Not all cell phone carriers have or will be providing this capability to its customers. Currently, six cell phone carriers in Iowa have committed to making Text-to-911 available to customers: AT&T, i-Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.


"We are very close to the reality of Text-to-911 being available statewide," said Blake DeRouchey, Iowa's 911 program manager. "Text-to-911 service has been shown to save lives in other states where it is available, and we are excited to have that capability available for Iowans."


Text-to-911 was developed primarily for citizens who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech impaired. Texting can be used in situations in which a voice call to 911 would endanger the caller, such as during a home invasion or domestic situation. Sending a text to 911 can also be helpful in situations in which a medical condition makes it impossible for the caller to speak. Iowa’s IP-based 911 network will also eventually allow citizens to contact 911 using video and picture messaging, although that is much further down the road.


DeRouchey points out that calling 911 is still the preferred method of requesting assistance.


"Once the technology is in place, it will still be better to call 911 if at all possible if you need help," he stressed.


The Department has contracted with four separate vendors in an effort to increase the speed of deployment of Text-to-911 service in Iowa. As county 911 call centers gain the capability to accept text messages, they will notify residents of its availability.

Important 911 Takeaways

To view the governor's proclamation, click here.


911 public education tools and resources are also available on the NENA website under the "Standards/Resources" tab. Additional information will be available on HSEMD social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, throughout the month using hashtag #911education.

The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management leads, coordinates and supports homeland security and emergency management functions in order to establish sustainable communities and ensure economic opportunities for Iowa and its citizens.