TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has launched a new way for residents to contact authorities during an emergency.
The sheriff's office, in partnership with the county, launched the Text-to-911 system. It allows people in the county to text a 911 dispatcher if they're unable to call.
The sheriff's office says the new system is not meant to replace the traditional 911 calls. Instead, it's intended to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing, those with a speech disability, those who are in a situation where a traditional call is too dangerous, or if you do not have phone reception.
"We want to be proactive in helping our residents feel safe and prepared for an emergency," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "An emergency can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, so our goal is to give the community just one more way to get help during a crisis."
According to a press release, residents just have to text 911 and a dispatcher will reply and ask for more information. The sheriff's office says it's important to reply as quickly as possible.
“Response times are critical during emergencies,” said Hillsborough County Fire Chief Dennis Jones. “Text-to-911 is an invaluable tool both for people who are hurt or in peril, and for the workers on the front lines who come to their aid.”
Dispatchers can't receive group texts, images, videos or emojis.