TAMPA — People who need emergency help in Hillsborough County can now send a text message to 911.
The county announced Monday that the new text-to-911 system is now available. The system is meant for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability, and for situations when phone reception is poor or making a phone call would be too dangerous, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office news release.
“An emergency can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, so our goal is to give the community just one more way to get help during a crisis,” Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the release.
To use the system, send a text message to 911 without using dashes, slang or abbreviations. You will get a reply confirming you’re in contact with a dispatcher and asking for more details. Answer the 911 dispatcher’s questions and instructions as quickly as possible as you would on a call. Dispatchers can not receive group texts, images, videos or emojis.
Officials said people who need help should always call if possible and use the text system only if a call is not an option.
For more information on the system, visit hcflgov.net/text911.
Pinellas County launched its text-to-911 system in 2018.