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Do you know all the wireless emergency alerts in Texas?

Do you know all the wireless emergency alerts in Texas?

In the last legislative session, Governor Abbot passed House Bill 103 which requires the creation of an active shooter alert system. This new law brought attention to the lesser known wireless alerts out there, and we wanted to create a quick, easy-to-use guide for anyone wondering about the different type of alerts out there. 

AMBER Alert 

The AMBER alert is the one that most commonly comes to mind when discussing wireless alerts. This alert was established in 1996 after the kidnap and murder of Amber Hagerman. The alert is named for her but is also an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. 

Criteria for activating an AMBER alert include: 

  • The child is under 17-years-old. 
  • The child is in immediate danger. 
  • Law enforcement has confirmed an abduction and eliminated any alternative explanation for the child’s disappearance. 
  • There is sufficient information to describe the child, suspect, or vehicle to distribute to the public.  

Blue Alert 

The National Blue Alert Network maintains blue alerts in 39 states. Blue Alerts allow law enforcement officers to effectively locate suspects who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal officers.  

Criteria for activating a Blue Alert include:  

  • A law enforcement officer has been killed or seriously injured by a suspect. 
  • It has been determined that the suspect is a threat to the public and law enforcement. 
  • There is sufficient information to describe the suspect’s vehicle or license plate tags. 
  • The investigating law enforcement agency requests the activation of the alert. 

Camo Alert 

The Camo Alert system was established in Texas in 2019 and is designed to locate a missing current or former member of the United States armed forces. Unlike other alerting systems, a military member must register to be included in the Camo Alert program. This includes providing a letter from a physician confirming that the military member has a verified mental health concern.  

Criteria for activating a Camo Alert include: 

  • The military member is registered for the Camo Alert program and has a verified mental health concern. 
  • The individual is confirmed to be a current or former member of the United States armed forces, or the National Guard, or a reserve or auxiliary unit of any branch of the armed forces. 
  • The disappearance is a credible threat to the military member’s health and safety or the health and safety of others. 

CLEAR Alert 

CLEAR Alerts were established by the Coordinated Law Enforcement Adult Rescue Alert Program by Texas legislation in 2019. It was designed to “close the gap between missing children and senior citizens.”  

Criteria for activating a CLEAR Alert include: 

  • The name CLEAR is an acronym of victims who could have benefitted from its use: Cayley Mandadi; D’Lisa Kelley; Erin Castro; Ashanti Billie and the Rest. 
  • The missing individual is between 18 to 64 years. 
  • A preliminary investigation confirms the adult is in imminent danger of bodily injury or death, or the disappearance is involuntary. 
  • There is enough information to help locate the individual, a suspect, or the vehicle used in the incident. 

Endangered Missing Persons Alert 

The Endangered Missing Persons Alert was created in March of 2000 after 17-year-old Gabriel Lester went missing and his remains were found four months later. 

Criteria for activating an Endangered Missing Persons Alert include: 

  • The missing person can be of any age but must be diagnosed with an intellectual disability or pervasive developmental disorder such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, etc. 
  • Confirmation that an investigation has taken place and that the disappearance poses a credible threat to the missing person. 
  • A written diagnosis from a physician or licensed psychologist in the state of Texas or the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services or Texas Department of Health Services is provided to law enforcement. 
  • The request for an Endangered Missing Persons Alert was made within 72 hours of their disappearance. 
  • There is enough information to help locate the individual. 

Silver Alert 

The Silver Alert program was created in 2007 as a response to notify the public of missing older adults with a documented mental condition.   

Criteria for activating a Silver Alert include: 

  • The individual is 65 years or older. 
  • The senior citizen has a diagnosed impaired mental condition and poses a credible threat to their own health and safety. 
  • The family or legal guardian of the missing individual must provide documentation of their medical or mental health condition. 
  • The investigation has confirmed the individual’s disappearance is due to their impaired mental condition. 
  • The Silver alert was requested within 72 hours of the senior citizen’s disappearance. 
  • There is enough information to help locate the individual. 

Active Shooter Alert System 

The Active Shooter Alert System is one of the most recent alerting programs to be introduced in Texas. It was established after the passing of House Bill 103 on September 1, 2021. The law requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to activate an alert system if there is a report of an active shooter within a 50-mile radius. It also requires the Texas Department of Transportation to utilize roadway signs to alert the public of an active shooter near them.   

Criteria for activating an Active Shooter Alert include: 

  • An active shooter is in the requesting agency’s jurisdiction. 
  • Agreement that an active shooter alert would assist individuals. 
  • The presence of an active shooter can be verified. 
  • The active shooter’s location can be verified.   
Where can I text 911?

Where can I text 911?

Yes, you can text 911! In certain areas at least. The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) was the first to introduce this life-saving service in Texas, and many other 911 authorities or individual agencies have implemented it as well. But we still receive a lot of questions about texting, so we’ve highlighted some of the frequently asked questions we get. 

Where Can I Text?  

The service is available in some parts of the country. It is estimated that about 20% of the country has implemented text, but it is still a widely unknown service even in activated regions. The communities in the NCT911 service area have been able to text since 2013, but we still see that about 85% of people reaching out to 911 do so with  a cell phone. 

Find out if your area has text-to-911 here.

How Do I Text? 

Texting 911 is the same as texting anyone else. Just open your text messaging app, enter “911” into the send field, and type out your message. It’s important that you include your location information in that first text so 911 telecommunicators can dispatch help to you as soon as possible.  

You also need to include the type of emergency service you need, such as police, fire, or EMS, and give the 911 telecommunicator a description of the emergency you’re experiencing. For example, a text to 911 might read: 

“Help, I’m on the corner of Main Street and Wallaby Way, we need police and a paramedic. I just witnessed an accident.” 

If text-to-911 is not available, you will receive a bounce-back text requesting that you call 911 instead. 

When Should I Text? 

For now, the best way to reach 911 is with a voice call. However, if you are unable to call or if it is unsafe for you to call, you can text instead. We recommend calling when you can over texting because 911 telecommunicators use background noise to help build situational awareness, and it prevents a delay in communication when speaking rather than texting.  

Remember: call if you can, text if you can’t. 

How do I register my address with 911?

How do I register my address with 911?

New year, new you, maybe a new home? Or even the launch of a new business? Either way, if you’re setting up a new phone system, or if you are responsible for ensuring new housing developments are addressed and listed in an Emergency Communications Center (ECC), it’s important to know how to register an address with 911.  

Our 911 call centers and our staff members get this question a lot, but we at NCT9-1-1 actually are not the authority for registering 911 addresses. So, where do you begin? 

What kind of buildings need 911 addresses? 

Obviously, any house or brick and mortar business needs an address that is verifiable by 911, but also mobile homes, barns, garages, water towers, and other similar structures need to have an address associated with them. Usually, when applying for a building permit, you will also be required to fill out an application for a 911 address. 

How do you apply for an address? 

You need to reach out to your local 911 addressing authority to request a 911 address. You can search online for your county addressing coordinator’s contact information, or call your county government headquarters, or your county appraisal district offices. 

We’ve collected all of the NCT9-1-1 addressing coordinator or county government information in the lines below. 

Collin County 

Ellis County 

Erath County 

Hood County 

Hunt County 

Johnson County 

Kaufman County 

Navarro County 

Parker County 

Palo Pinto County 

Rockwall County 

Somervell County 

Wise County 

 

How do you display your address? 

Registering your 911 address doesn’t do you any good if field responders can’t identify it in an emergency. It’s important to clearly display your 911 address numbers from the road. Post these numbers where it would be obvious for someone who has never visited your home or business to see. 

If you live at the end of a long driveway or access road, don’t just mark your mailbox. Make sure you also mark the entry to your driveway.  

Though we emphasize that rural areas should take steps to display a readable address that is clearly identified, members of the public in suburban or even urban areas should also ensure their address is easy to see from the street. 

911 Accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

911 Accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

What efforts are out there for 911 accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities? The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which passed on July 26, 1990, states that “all Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) must provide direct, equal access to their services for people with disabilities who use a teletypewriter (TTY), which are also known as a ‘telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD).”  

Title II of the ADA specifically addresses the requirements of telephone emergency service providers, which includes police, fire, and EMS. TTY users must have access to 911 or a seven or ten-digit emergency service number. A TTY is a device used with a telephone to communicate with a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing, as it turns telephone tones into letters on a display screen. It is limited as TTY communication can only occur in one direction at a time, therefore two users can’t type to one another at the same time and must take turns sending and receiving. TTYs can also be used over a computer software rather than an isolated machine. 

When traveling within our 911 service area to discuss 911 accessibilityEvo for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, community members claim TTY to be an outdated service that a rare few still rely on. When asked how they would reach 911, most claimed to use video-relay services. These services allow a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing to video conference with an interpreter who then makes a call on their behalf to their local law enforcement office. However, these calls rarely come through on the 911 line, as the interpreter first has to identify the location of the caller and contact the correct law enforcement agency through their seven or ten-digit line. 

Real-Time Text (RTT) has been identified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a replacement for TTY in all instances, including for emergency services. RTT can be activated on any cell phone and used to send messages over a phone call. NCT911 is in the process of launching an RTT pilot project, and the public can follow along and learn more on our resource page here.   

Text-to-911 is also becoming more common across the country and could be a viable way for the Deaf or hard of hearing communities to reach emergency services where it is available. 

911 telecommunicators are trained on utilizing TTY devices and communicating with the Deaf and hard of hearing communities, but as resources such as RTT and text-to-911 are introduced, that training will need to be modified. The industry continues to work on offering accessible, life-saving services as a right to all community members.