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Palm Beach County 911 Now Accepts Text Messages

Markus Spiske
Flickr/Creative Commons

People living in Palm Beach County have a new way to reach 911 in an emergency: by text message.

Anyone in the county with a cell phone can send a text to 911 describing their emergency. The message will immediately begin a text conversation with an operator - just like a call.

“We will be able to text back and determine what the emergency is and get you the appropriate resources - police, fire, paramedics,” said Natalie Heneks, communications supervisor at Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials say a call is best. But there are scenarios where the text capability could save a life.

The text option gives greater access to the deaf community.

“And there are several situations when your voice may give away your location and put you in a dangerous situation,” said Palm Beach County 911 coordinator Dan Koenig, “like a home invasion or a domestic violence incident.”

For those who do send 911 a text, it’s critical to include an exact location. Currently, the service only accepts messages in English.

Broward and Monroe counties expect to add 911 texting before the end of the year.