CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - In an emergency, Charleston County residents can now send a text to 911 dispatchers when they aren't able to call.
Charleston Consolidated Dispatch announced the launch of Text-to-911, which allows people to text message 911 from their cell phones if they are within Charleston County.
"Although this method is not new to the public, it is new to 911," CCCD Director Jim Lake said in a statement. "Our ability to now receive text messages will provide another means of communication to the public during an emergency."
The county has been testing the system over the last few weeks.
Dispatchers urge people to call 911 if they can, since calling will get the message to their operators faster than a text message and allows the operator to ask key questions that could get lifesaving help there in time.
If the user is in an area where the service is not available, a message will be returned letting them know. A text or data plan is required to send a text to 911.
Dorchester County adopted the technology back in February. Berkeley County plans to adopt it in August.
In May 2014, the FCC and the four major wireless carriers agreed to begin the deployment of Text to 911 to those agencies that requested the service. Using the service is free for the user and will cost each county about $300 to implement.
The Text to 911 service is not available everywhere in South Carolina or in the US.