Text-to-911 now available for Lexington County residents

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 12:39 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - Lexington County Emergency Services has announced the successful launch of Text-to-911 services for residents.

Text-to-911 uses state-of-the-art technology that allows hearing and speech-impaired residents, as well as those in potentially dangerous situations, to reach out for help.

Text-to-911 will be available for all Lexington County residents and visitors in the county’s service area. It will not be available for residents within the City of Cayce, City of West Columbia, or Town of Batesburg-Leesville, as those agencies provide their own 911 call services.

The County of Lexington 911 Emergency Communications Division worked with AT&T to implement the Text-to-911 call-handling system.

It is an alternative to calling in an emergency if it is unsafe for an individual to speak.

“If a caller is in a dangerous situation where they are unable to speak, such as an intruder in the home or a domestic violence situation, then Text-to-911 would be an emergency lifeline,” 911 Communications Chief Nikki Rodgers said. “However, speaking to a 911 dispatcher is still the fastest way to receive help to the location; so, remember: Call if you can, text if you can’t.”

If there is an emergency and you cannot call 911, you are urged to:

  • Enter the numbers 911 in the “To” field.
  • Text your exact address and type of emergency.
  • Send the message.
  • Use simple words, but do not include abbreviations, emojis, pictures, or slang.
  • Promptly answer questions and follow instructions.

Text-to-911 comes with its own set of challenges. For example, emergency response may be lengthened due to the time it takes for a text to 911 to be typed and sent. Delivery of texts and speed of delivery are also not guaranteed.

Here are several reminders to ensure the best service and response from dispatchers:

  • Dispatchers prefer calls so they can get cues from background noise and voice inflections. If you text 911, dispatchers will ask if they can call you.
  • Location is not as accurate with texting as it is with a call. Be sure to text your exact address.
  • A text or data plan is required to use Text-to-911.
  • Texts to 911 will get a bounce-back message if you are roaming.
  • Texts to 911 have a 160 character limit, can get out of order, or may not be received.
  • There is no language translation service for texts to 911.
  • Do not text and drive.

This service should only be used in emergencies. Texting 911 with a false report is a crime. If you accidentally send a text to 911, send a follow-up message or call 911 to let the dispatcher know that there is no emergency.

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