'Call if you can, text if you can't': Racine County launches text-to-911 service

NOW: ’Call if you can, text if you can’t’: Racine County launches text-to-911 service

YORKVILLE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave announced the launch of text-to-911 service in Racine County on Tuesday, May 11. The service provides another means for those experiencing an emergency to connect to help.

Officials say anyone experiencing an emergency in Racine County is now able to send a text message to the Racine County Communications Center to relay information. Officials note that a voice call to 911 is the best option since dispatchers can process the call much quicker and obtain a location.

According to officials, text-to-911 should be used in an emergency when voice calls are not possible. This includes if a person is deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired, if a person is in an area with poor cell coverage, and if a person may be in danger if someone hears them making a call.

“Safety is our highest priority, and this is a great public safety enhancement for Racine County. Text-to-911 gives residents facing an emergency another way to contact 911 dispatchers and get help,” Delagrave said. “We encourage residents experiencing an emergency to continue contacting the Racine County Communications Center by phone, but if you are unable to call, text 911.”

The process of sending a text to 911 is the same as sending a text to anyone else. Officials say to send to "91" with no spaces or dashes. In the message, write the type of emergency you are having and what you need, such as the fire department or an ambulance. Dispatchers cannot identify locations based on text messages, so it is vital to include the street address and the city or town you are in. If you don't know the address, provide a description of the location such as a cross-street or landmark.

“Our dedicated team is here for you, 24/7, 365 days a year. We encourage you to ‘call if you can, text if you can’t,’” said Jackie Bratz, Racine County Communications Center Director.

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