A trial service that allows people to contact the emergency services by text message has been launched in the UK.

The trial system allows users to send a text message to 999 when faced with an emergency.

It is hoped that several thousand people will sign up to the trial service. If successful, the trial initiative could become a permanent service next year.

The system is designed to make easier for people who would have difficulty making normal voice calls to contact the police, fire brigade and ambulance services.

The participant sends an SMS spelling out the emergency service required, the type of emergency and the location.

The service sends the text to a voice relay assistant, who then speaks the message to the emergency services, then types the reply, which is converted back to an SMS message and sent back.

A spokesperson for the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, the organisation running the project, told E-Health Insider: “The project is co-funded by the government and the emergency services and involves a majority of service providers including Vodafone, 02, Orange, , Cable and Wireless and BT.”

The spokesperson added: “The service is primarily for deaf people but will also be useful for those people that have speech difficulties.”

People can register for the system by texting the word register to 999. However, those who try text 999 without registering will receive an automated response saying that they are not registered and cannot use the service.


Royal National Institute for Deaf People