Lancaster County launches text-to-911 system
Officials hope this new software will make it easier for those in Lancaster County to reach 911.
LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - There is now a new way to reach out for help during an emergency in Lancaster County.
Instead of simply dialing 911, you can text the number, give your location and hit send.
Robert Purser, the director of Lancaster County Public Safety Communications, hopes this new software will make it easier for those in Lancaster County to reach 911. Purser said the new process will be taken just like a regular call.
“You just put 911 in the “to” field of a text message, and we ask that you give us your location and type of emergency in the first send,” shared Purser.
After a text message is sent, Purser said dispatchers will be able to see the texter’s location on a map.
The county shared that the text-to-911 system shouldn’t completely replace people making regular calls to 911. Instead, it should only be used in emergencies if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would place the caller in danger.
Some people living in Lancaster County, like Chase Perry and Mercedes Jones, shared they think this is a great tool to now have.
“I had no clue. I think it’s a phenomenal thing, I think if you’re in a really bad situation and you don’t need to alarm anyone around you who might hurt you, you’re able to text it really discreetly so I think it’s a phenomenal thing to do,” said Perry.
“If someone is breaking into your house and you can’t really talk much out loud, it will definitely help you that way,” shared Jones.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police launched its text-to-911 system back in 2020. From January to March of 2023, CMPD says they’ve gotten over 800 texts.
Lancaster County Government shared that voice calls are still the best and fastest way to get assistance from 911.
Their only hope for the text-to-911 system is that it will help the community.
“I don’t have an expectation of this taking over or anything. If it benefits one person If it helps one person, then it’s done its job,” said Purser.
If there is an emergency and you are unable to make a call, it is important to remember the following steps:
• Don’t text and drive.
• In the first text message, send your location and the type of emergency.
• Text in simple words – send a short text message in English without abbreviations or slang terms.
• Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.
For more information about the text-to-911 system in Lancaster County, click here.
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