An ESMS service enabling registered users to make contact with emergency services via SMS is being launched in a trial initiative organised by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People together with the Government and telecommunications providers including BT, Cable & wireless, O2, Orange and Vodafone.
Whilst you would have thought a service like this would have required extensive testing before being publicly launched, the RNID is asking for members of the public with hearing loss to help them “test” the service during the pilot:
After the 14th September 2009 you can register to use the “pilot service” by registering at http://www.emergencysms.org.uk ALTERNATIVELY you can sign up by texting the word ‘register’ to 999 (after which you will have to accept the terms and conditions in order to activate the service).
You can download the “emergencySMS leaflet” here (188KB, PDF) or contact the RNID Information Line who will post you an explanatory leaflet.
*** UPDATE 27 January 2017 ***
With 214,000 people registered to the service to date the challenge is now set to now make the service accessible to the whole population as so far the service hasn’t even become accessible to 5% of the people in the 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss or 25% of the 900,000 people with severe or profound deafness.
Perhaps just taking a mobile first approach is what’s needed as I can think of countless other reasons citizens would like to be able to SMS emergency services and emergency services would prefer to be managing SMS contacts e.g. replacing the outdated “Silent Solution” service with preset ready-to-send SMS messages.