The Hall County 911 Center is now one of only 16 centers in the state that can receive a call for help via text message with the launch of Text-to-911.

"Text-to-911 will provide quicker access to emergency services for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech disabled residents of Hall County," said Marty Nix, assistant Hall County Administrator.

To text 911, simply send a text to the number 911, just as one would when placing a phone call.

There are many situations where Text-to-911 can be more effective than calling 911 such as during an abduction, home invasion, domestic situation and in the instance where a cell call cannot be delivered but a text can, according to a news release.

"Text-to-911 will also accommodate the younger generation, who consistently use text messaging instead of a phone call to communicate," said Nix.

Although Hall County 911 has the capability now to receive a text message, residents are still urged to use a voice call as their primary source of communication with 911 if they are able to do so.

"Voice calls allow the 911 operator to more quickly ask questions and obtain information from the caller, while two-way communication by text can take more time and could be subject to limits on the length of text messages," Nix said. "In addition, when you make a voice call to 911, the call taker will typically receive your phone number and the approximate location of your phone automatically."

In most cases, when you text 911 from a wireless phone, the call taker will not receive this automated information. For this reason, if you send a text message to 911, Nix said it is important to give the 911 call taker an accurate address or location as quickly as possible, if you can.

Citizens are also reminded that a voice call to 911 using a wireless phone can be made even if the phone does not have a service plan; however, a text message to 911 cannot be sent without a service contract that includes texting.

Hall County officials have been testing the Text-to-911 system for the past few weeks to ensure it will be ready for use by the public.

"We actually had a text last Sunday night from someone who called 911 by mistake and then followed up via text to let us know there was no emergency," said James Thomas, director of Hall County Management Information Systems. "That was a good indication for us that the system was working as it should be."

The final testing for the system was completed Tuesday, Jan. 7.

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