Dallas residents can now text 911, instead of calling, the city announced Monday. However, it stressed that calling 911 would still be faster.
The city said it added texting capabilities for callers who are deaf, are hard of hearing or have a speech impairment. Text to 911 could also be used in a situation in which speaking out loud would put the caller in danger.
Dallas' Text to 911 service has limitations, which is why the city said it still preferred residents to call 911 in an emergency. Those limitations include a 140-character cap, depending on a cell phone carrier's service and the ability to only receive texts in English.
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The city added texts may be received out of sequence, could not be part of a group text, and could not include photos or video.
The city said it started a "soft-launch" of the service in December, and provided statistics on how long it took to process each text to 911. From December through January, the system handled 1,214 texts with an average processing time between 10 and 11 minutes.
Dallas' presentation to a City Council committee cited San Antonio as an example of a large city that uses Text to 911. It said the Alamo City responded to 2,857 Text to 911 requests in 2018, with an average processing time of nearly 25 minutes.
Hunt County provides a Text to 911 option for its residents, and it's a service that might have saved a woman and her two children's lives in May 2017 after a man attempted to kidnap the three of them. The texts prompted a four-county police chase that ended with the man dead and the RV he was driving in flames on Interstate 30.
Dallas joins a growing number of North Texas cities and counties that accept text messages to 911.