SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, May 27, a service known as Text-to-911 was announced by the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The service enables people at the airport to get in touch with SFO 911 dispatchers through text message if they are unable to make a phone call. It will be operational on Monday, June 1.

According to the Airport Director, Ivar C. Satero, Text-to-911 is being implemented to increase the airport’s ability to respond to emergencies. “We are committed to the safety and security of all passengers and employees, and this enhancement to SFO’s 911 system provides another life-saving option for people in emergency situations anywhere in the Airport when calling 911 is not possible,” said Satero.

The SFO press release outlined three primary scenarios that the Text-to-911 service is designed to assist with. The first scenario is a situation where someone is unable to call 911 because it is unsafe. The second scenario involves a person who might have a speech or hearing disability and cannot make a voice call. The third scenario is when an emergency occurs and an injured individual is unable to use their voice. 

If an emergency arises at the airport, those who can make a voice call are encouraged to call 911 instead of text. The SFO Communications team is trained to respond to both calls and text messages.

Text messages to 911 should be brief and should indicate where the emergency is taking place. Dispatchers may respond with questions and instructions.

When it is released on June 1, the Text-to-911 service will be English only. No details were disclosed if additional languages will be offered for the service. The service does not allow photos or videos to be received.