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Call If You Can, Text If You Can't: People can now text 911 during an emergency in Lee County

Text 911
Posted at 3:07 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 15:07:59-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Call if you can, text if you can’t, that’s the message from law enforcement in Lee county.

Ben Abes, Lee County Director of Public Safety says these emergency texts get answered by the same people trained to answer 911 calls.

“Texting 911 is an important option especially for the deaf, and hard of hearing, or people in situations where a voice call to 911 isn’t possible,” said Abes.

Here's what you will need to keep in mind.

When texting to 911 in an emergency:

· Enter 911 in the “To” field (do not use dashes between numbers)

· Give your exact location and type of emergency.

· Keep it brief.

· Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.

Do not:

· Do not use slang, abbreviations, GIFs, or emojis.

· Do not send to more than one person; group texts are not received.

· Do not text and drive.

· Do not send photos and videos.

Law enforcement says they hope this new tech can help them respond faster to school threats or active shooter situations.

“The opportunity where if a child is trapped in a closet, they can’t make a phone call, they can text," said Board Chairman Cecil Pendergrass.

Pendergrass says right now only text messages can be sent but in spring 2022, texters will be able to send pictures and videos as evidence.

Options local leaders, like Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, said will only help to further serve the community.

“We always want people to call if they can but this is yet another way to make certain another added level of service that our residents are going to be safe no matter what,” said Marceno.