The Toole County Sheriff’s Office has made numerous upgrades and improvements to their facility and systems over the past few years to better serve the community and has recently added another, Text-To-911. As of Monday, May 7, anyone in need of emergency assistance has the option to send a text message to 911.

“But do not send picture messages or emojis,” said Sheriff Donna Whitt. “These won’t come through and the dispatcher won’t be able to see them.”

The new system has been implemented primarily for those who are speech and hearing impaired, but it also benefits anyone in an area where voice coverage is limited but a text can go through. 

“This service is not to replace calling 911,” Whitt emphasized. “It is still always, always best to call if you can.”

Text-To-911 only works on an active cell phone with a data plan and out-of-area cells cannot send a text through this service. The new public safety service is available to wireless customers of Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile.

Anyone utilizing this service needs to be aware that texting is not always instantaneous and it may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services. Providing detailed and exact location information and the nature of the emergency in the first text message sent is essential as the system will initially only receive the location of the cell phone tower closest to you. If you are near or outside the county line the message may not reach 911.

If you are in an area where even a text message will not go through a “bounce back” message will be sent advising the service is not available in the area and to make a voice call. 

Text-To-911 is simple to utilize. Simply type 911 in the “To:” line, type your request for help and be sure to include your address and what is happening. Be sure to send short messages, without abbreviations and slang. 

Ultimately, calling 911 during an emergency is the quickest, most efficient way to get help as soon as possible. But, if you find yourself with an emergency situation in an area of Toole County where cell service is intermittent at best, and there are a lot of those, Text-To-911 is now an option.

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