The National Emergency SMS Service is an ‘add on’ to the existing 18000 service that is available in the UK.
It is a national scheme currently available that allows anyone unable to use voice telephony, to send a text to 999 using their mobile phones, which gets converted into a call to the emergency services. The Royal National Institute of the Deaf (RNID) has been working with partners to develop this vital service for many years. The service is being supported by the government, emergency services, Ofcom, the telecommunications sector (British Telecom, Cable and Wireless, Vodaphone, Orange, 02, T-Mobile and 3) and RNID. Emergency SMS is a live, fully operational national service, which has already been successfully used to gain assistance in hundreds of real emergencies, including assistance to deliver two babies safely. This service represents a major step forward as, until now, this community have found themselves unable to contact emergency services while on the move. It is hoped that as many of them as possible will now register – rather than wait for an emergency. Registration only takes a couple of minutes and involves texting the word ‘register’ to 999 and then following the instructions received.