New text 911 program coming to tri-county

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The tri-county area will soon have a new way to get emergency help without calling 9-1-1.

Right now if you try to text 911, a error message comes back in response, but starting February 18, that will change.

Monday night, Dorchester County's Sheriff's Department and Emergency Communication Department made a presentation on the new program in front of county council.

The program will cost only $274 for the county to implement the first year and is free to users.

Berkeley and Charleston counties are planning similar programs.

Charleston County plans a soft launch of the Text 911 program this month but has no official date scheduled.

Berkeley County is still figuring out technical issues with the program but says it should launch in August and will cost the county $180 and is also free to users.

When a text is sent, it will go to a company that will make sure it's a real issue in just a few seconds. Then that text will be passed on to dispatch, who will text back and forth to handle the situation.

The counties say texting is great when making noise would be an issue, but it's also slower so their motto is to 'Call if you can, text if you can't.'

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