Grays Harbor County can now text 911. A press release from the Grays Harbor E-911 Center said that “Being able to provide Text-to-911 services, is just one more way for us to be there for our citizens when they need help.”

Executive Director Brenda Cantu said “one of the main benefits of this technology is the ability to help those with hearing and speech difficulties gain equal access to 911 during an emergency. They will no longer need to rely on a relay service or special equipment (other than their smart phone) to communicate with 911.”

In addition, victims of domestic violence, a hiker lost in the woods with a weak cellular signal, or individuals in situations where they are unable to safely make a voice call, can now text 911.

A few critical things to know about text-to-911:

¨ CALL IF YOU CAN, TEXT IF YOU CAN’T. If possible, 911 would prefer you make a voice call during an emergency, which allows the dispatcher to gather information faster than texting.

¨ To send a text to 911 from your cell phone go to: New Message, to: (enter 911), go to the message box and type in the type of help you need and the address where emergency responders need to go, send message. A Public Safety Telecommunicator will respond back with a message.

¨ Text in plain English and avoid the use of common texting abbreviations. Do not use emoticons or attempt to send attachments such as video or pictures. The 911 Center has no ability to open attachments.

¨ Stay with your phone, be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the Public Safety Telecommunicator.

¨ Text – to – 911 is not available in all areas of Washington State or the nation. If you text in an area without coverage, you will get a “bounce-back” message asking you to call 9-1-1 for help.