Starting July 1, people in Cuyahoga County will be able to text their emergencies to 911.
This service is only available
in about half of the States, and four other counties in Ohio.
Where the texts end up depends on the location of the sender; if you're in Cleveland, the city dispatch center will receive them, and if you're in the suburbs, the Cuyahoga Emergency Services will determine where to forward them.
Cuyahoga Emergency Communications System director of public safety and justice services Brandy Carney told
Cleveland.com that the ability to text 911 will benefit people unable to call, as well as the 25,000-plus deaf or hearing-impaired Cuyahoga residents.
Carney also said when dispatch centers are inundated with too many calls, texting will help people reach them.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires
all carriers to send "bounce-back" messages if someone attempts to text 911 in an area where it's not available, and these rules don't apply to messaging apps that operate through social media.
The FCC emphasizes
that while texting is certainly helpful for some, calling is still preferable:
"Even where text-to-911 is available, if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and if it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call to 911 instead."