When to text 9-1-1

Picture showing a BOEC dispatcher.
Call 9-1-1 if you can, text 9-1-1 if you can't.

Like other 9-1-1 calls, Text-to-911 should only be used for emergencies. If the situation is not an emergency requiring immediate help, you should call the non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.

To report an emergency using Text-to-911

  • Go to your cell phone text messaging screen / messaging app
  • Enter "911" (with no dashes or spaces) in the "TO" field
  • Type your message
  • Hit "SEND"

Do NOT send your message to multiple people in a group text as this will stop the message from reaching a 9-1-1 Center.

If you are within an area that does NOT yet offer Text-to-911 services, you will receive a return message that states services are not available. If that happens, place a voice call to 9-1-1 to report your emergency.

There are several limitations with this system which you should be aware of:

  1. It is critical that you KNOW YOUR LOCATION.  Many people assume that their exact location is automatically sent to 9-1-1 Centers. While this may be true for most landline phones, 9-1-1 centers cannot always identify your location if you’re contacting us from a cell phone and location accuracy is even worse for texting than it is for voice calls.  Whether you call or text 9-1-1, you need to be able to describe where you are so we can send you help.  
  2. Text-to-911 can only receive words and punctuation and CANNOT receive emoticons, emoji, pictures or videos.  Your message may not be interpreted correctly if you use “text speak” or abbreviations. Examples of these types of abbreviations are: “TTYL”, “SMH”, or “AFK”. Please use plain English when using Text-to-911.
  3. Please text in English only. Language interpreting service is not available for Text-to-911 at this time. 9-1-1 dispatchers will do their best to assist you if you aren’t able to text in English. However, language interpreting services are available if you call 9-1-1.
  4. If a Text-to-911 call is misrouted, the 9-1-1 centers listed at the bottom of this page have the ability to transfer Text-to-911 calls between Centers. BOEC will not be able to transfer Text-to-911 calls to outside service providers, such as crisis lines.

Additional features will become available in the future, but for now we are only able to offer basic Text-to-911, which is a free service and already included in your cell phone service fees. Text-to-911 is also available in the following surrounding counties: Clackamas, Clark, Clatsop, Columbia, Marion, and Washington.