The feature allows students to text 911 as opposed to calling. Daniel Dempster | Mustang News

Cal Poly students can now text 911 when experiencing an emergency where it is unsafe or not possible to call.

Assistant Vice President of Safety for the University Police Department (UPD) George Hughes tweeted that this feature became available to campus May 21. Though it is easy to use, Hughes encourages students to call when it is possible and to only resort to this feature if necessary.

In October 2017, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office reported they were beginning to train their staff to respond to these text emergencies and were hoping all departments would use this system by November 2017.

Now, this system has been expanded to Cal Poly’s campus. The slogan “Call if you can – text if you can’t” was created by the Federal Communications Commission to encourage students to use the text feature when necessary.

“The feature allows those who are unable to call 911 in an emergency to send a text, and the text message goes straight to UPD’s dispatch console. This is an important new capability that will increase safety for our entire campus community, and UPD is hoping to get the word out widely,” university spokesperson Matt Lazier said.

After sending a distress message, the Dispatch Center will respond with more information. This text feature will also be beneficial to those with hearing and speech impairments.

“UPD reminds community members that it’s always better to call 911 if you can, so that the dispatcher can converse with you and get as much detail as possible. But text 911 adds a new dimension to emergency response capabilities for the county,” Lazier said.

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