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If you need help, you can now text 911. But this is why officials still prefer phone calls
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The Hall County 911 Center can now communicate by text message. People in an emergency can text 911 with their location. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hall County’s 911 center can now communicate through text messages.

To text 911, just send a message to that number, providing the address or location of the emergency as soon as possible.

County officials have been testing the system for the past few weeks.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners approved the $119,432 upgrade last year.

The technology will better serve those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled, as well as those experiencing emergency situations where a phone call cannot be made, such as a home invasion or abduction.

“Text-to-911 will also accommodate the younger generation, who consistently use text messaging instead of a phone call to communicate,” Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix said in a statement.

Residents are still encouraged to use a voice call as their primary source of communication with 911 if they are able to do so.

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Call taker Cliff Slaton monitors computer screens Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, inside Hall County Emergency Services 911 Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

“Voice calls allow the 911 operator to more quickly ask questions and obtain information from the caller, while two-way communication by text can take more time and could be subject to limits on the length of text messages,” Nix, a former 911 director, said. “In addition, when you make a voice call to 911, the call taker will typically receive your phone number and the approximate location of your phone automatically.”

In most cases, the 911 call taker will not receive automated location information from a text message, so when texting 911, send a message with the location of the emergency.

The 911 center cannot yet receive images, videos or emojis, but that technology may become available later, Nix said.

Hall County is one of 16 centers in Georgia with the text-to-911 technology. The technology for texting 911 only became advanced enough to be an option within the past few years, Nix said. Other centers in the state include Gwinnett County, Forsyth County and the city of Atlanta. The Federal Communications Commission maintains a list of all centers in the country that can communicate by text message.

Forsyth County E-911 will be the backup site for Hall County if the system is not working, and Hall will also cover for Forsyth if needed, Nix said.

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The Hall County 911 Center can now communicate by text message. People in an emergency can text 911 with their location. - photo by Scott Rogers
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