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Smith County residents can text 911 in case of emergencies


Smith County residents can text 911 if they're unable to call in an emergency.

The Text-to-911 service allows users to send a text message to reach 911 emergency call takers from a mobile phone or device.

Mobile phone users should enter the phone number 911, with no dashes, in the “to” or recipient field. In the message, the user should provide the address, location and what assistance is needed - fire, EMS or police.

In Smith County, Text-to-911 messages are received at the Smith County 911 District and routed to the appropriate public-safety answering point: the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Tyler Police Department, Lindale Police Department or the Overton Police Department, Emergency Management Services or Tyler Department of Public Safety.

Smith County 911 District Director Bill Morales said a Text-to-911 message is received like a call from a person using a telecommunication device for the deaf.

While the service has been available since late 2015, Morales said the district soon will be getting an upgrade that will allow a dispatcher at one of the public-safety answering points to interact with the person sending the text through real time text technology, like a normal texting conversation or instant messaging conversation.

“In about six months we should have the technology online, tested and ready to use,” Morales said.

Still, Smith County 911 District officials stress the importance of “call if you can, text if you can’t.”

“We only get a couple text messages to 911 each month,” Morales said. “As of now, it’s only been people testing the capability to see if it works.”