South Texans can now text emergencies to 911

Technology offers reporting tool for hearing, speech impaired or those in danger

SAN ANTONIO – Texting is ubiquitous in modern life. From talking with friends to making plans, a text is the first way many people choose to communicate.

Now it's a choice for reporting an emergency.

As of May 1, callers in San Antonio, as well as in the rest of Bexar, Comal and Guadalupe counties, can text their emergencies to 911.

"We think this is an important resource that we're going to be able to provide to our citizenship, and again, it's about keeping people safe," said San Antonio Police Chief Anthony Trevino.

To use the technology, a person would simply send a text to 911 with their emergency and the address of the emergency. Dispatchers can also text them back.

It's meant for people with hearing or speech impairments, or for when speaking out loud could put someone in danger.

"That may be the only way a victim has to notify 911 to get the information to us," said Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerlau.

Trevino said this has already proven to be true. San Antonio police provided an example of a domestic violence case where a woman who was able to text while her alleged attacker was sleeping.

But officials say if you can call instead of text, do it.

They warn that texts could be delayed or not received, and the call center doesn't automatically get your location like they do with a call. Some phones might not work with the texting either, and the 911 dispatcher doesn't get as much information.

Just like with calling 911, prank texts or false reports via text are illegal, and you can be prosecuted.