PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla — If you live in Pinellas County, you can now text 911 dispatchers if there is an emergency and you need help.
"At this point, were all texting or Instagramming and or Snapchatting something like that,” said Wendy Whitworth, who grew up in Pinellas County.
The option makes it easier on people to alert 911 of an emergency when placing a call isn’t an option.
“Certain situations like domestic violence, or for these active shooter situations where you could do it quietly hopefully,” said Whitworth.
All you have to do is text your address and a brief description of your emergency to 911. Dispatchers will respond back and, after they request help, will continue texting you for more information.
They say you should not send pictures and videos, emojis or slang words.
Pinellas County officials say the Tampa Bay Area’s deaf and hard of hearing community is the fifth largest in the country and many of those folks have a hard time communicating over the phone. But, they say, if you can call and speak directly to a dispatcher it’s preferred.
"We're able to get more information and there’s some other options that we can offer when you call we can’t when you text,” said Judith Weshinskey, the Manager for the Pinellas County regional 911 center.
One of those options not available via text is a translation service for people who don’t speak English.