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Lexington County Emergency Services Launches Text to 911

Wed, 04/21/2021

Lexington County Emergency Services is pleased to announce the successful launch of Text-to-911 service.

The County’s Text-to-911 uses the latest state-of-the-art technology allowing 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. Text-to-911 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. 

​In an emergency, dialing 911 is a call for help. But people with hearing loss or those who must remain quiet in a dangerous situation aren’t able to place a call safely or at all. That is why the County of Lexington 911 Emergency Communications Division has worked with AT&T and West to implement Text-to-911 on the County of Lexington’s Next Generation 911 call-handling system.

Text-to-911 is an alternative to calling in an emergency when it would be 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,” said 911 Communications Chief Nikki Rodgers. “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, take these steps:

  1. Enter the numbers 911 in the "To" field.
  2. Text your exact address and type of emergency.
  3. Send the message.
  4. Use simple words, but do not include abbreviations, emoji’s, pictures or slang.
  5. Promptly answer questions and follow instructions.

 

Text-to-911 comes with challenges. For instance, 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!

The new 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 another text, or call 911 to let the dispatcher know that there is no emergency.

Remember: Call if you can, text if you can’t.