The Wayne County 911 Center is now accepting text messages in the case of an emergency when calling is not possible.
The slogan for their newly added text-to-911 service is "call when you can, text when you can't."
Four major wireless carriers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are all delivering text messages to 911. Customers can now send a text with up to 140 characters to 911 in an emergency.
The center is reminding residents that calling is still the best and fastest way to contact 911.
"This new ability for our hearing and speech impaired, our vulnerable populations, those who have limited English proficiency, and our domestic violence victims is a welcome relief," said Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts.
Stipulations of the service
— A text or data plan is required to place a Text-to-911
— As with all text messages, messages to 911 may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all.
— If you do not receive a text response from 911, attempt a voice call to 911. Even if you cannot speak, the dispatcher may still be able to send help, provided the dispatcher can obtain a valid address.
— Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911.
— Text-to-911 cannot include more than one person; do not include other contacts on your emergency text.
Voice Calls to 911 are still the best and fastest way to contact 911.
"Dispatchers are making a difference and saving lives every day. Now, they can have a way to help and serve more of our community, and at times when it is too dangerous for callers to speak on the phone," said Greg DeWolf, 911 operations manager.
How do I text to 911?
— Enter the numbers "911" in the "To" or "Recipient" field.
— The first text to 911 should be short and include the location of the emergency, and should ask for police, fire or ambulance.
— Push the "Send" button.
— Answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.
— Text in simple words (no abbreviations or slang).
— Keep text messages short.
— If necessary, when silence is important, make sure your phone is on vibrate so that the return text sound, or other phone alerts, are not heard.