(KMSP) - Minnesotans now have the option to text 911 instead of calling in an emergency situation where it is unsafe for them to speak.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Communications developed Text-to-911, which is now available statewide.
"Imagine having to hide from an intruder in your bedroom closet or witnessing a domestic violence situation," DPS-ECN Director Jackie Mines said in a statement. "Text-to-911 is a lifeline for people who would put themselves in harm's way if they called 911."
The new texting service also allows Minnesotans with some form of hearing loss to text emergency dispatchers as a first contact option. Prior to Tuesday, those who are deaf did not have a direct way to contact 911 centers.
DPS officials say calling 911 and speaking with a dispatcher is still the fastest way to receive help. If you text 911, dispatchers will ask if they can call you.
What to do if you cannot call 911 in an emergency:
- Enter the numbers 911 in the "To" field
- Text your exact address and type of emergency
- Send the message
- Use simple words, but do not include abbreviations, emojis, pictures or slang
- Promptly answer questions and follow instructions