Texting 9-1-1 now an option in Brazos County

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - You can now text to 9-1-1 in Brazos County in an emergency situation.

MGN

Thursday, the Brazos County Emergency Communications District announced the new way to reach out for help. It's initially available to anyone with an active data plan with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon.

Officials tout the access to emergency services that's now available for those with hearing or speech impairments, or those who cannot ask for help because their safety might be put at risk by speaking, including active shooter, home invasion, abduction and domestic violence situations.

The district emphasizes that voice calls are still the best, fastest way to get help if you are in an emergency.

If you text in an area where 9-1-1 texts are not accepted, the district says a bounce back message will be sent to you asking you to call 9-1-1 instead.

Several residents we spoke with, including Rachel Jimenez, hadn't heard of the technology.

"I think it's a really good option. Say somebody comes into your house and you need to like get away. You can't really just call because they'll hear you. It's easier for them to get to you. I think the text option is definitely a good idea," she said.

The texts come in to Brazos County's 911 call center. The same operators who take voice calls use their keyboards instead of voices to respond via text.

"It’s really the culmination of about a year's worth of work. We’ve spent several months on the planning and doing research, and then really the last six or seven months, we've really done most of the work in terms of upgrades hardware-wise and software-wise to the system," said Patrick Corley, the executive director for Brazos County 911.

The upgrade to Brazos County 911 System cost $70,000 up front for new equipment, while they are also paying $1,000 each month for recurring costs to maintain the connectivity.

The Brazos Valley Council of Governments worked to put Text to 9-1-1 into place for Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson and Washington Counties earlier this year.

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The following tips are provided by the Brazos County Emergency Communications District if you need to text 9-1-1:

- Don’t text and drive
- Send your location and the type of emergency
- Use plain language and avoid abbreviations and slang
- Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time
- Do not include 9-1-1 as part of a group text
- Only text 9-1-1 when you are unable to make a voice call