Special Report: Text your emergency

ANDREWS -- Reaching 911 is now more accessible.

Andrews County introduced the text to 911 feature for their area.

"It wasn't so much an inspiration as a need. So many people now do texting rather than the voice conversations and this is just the next step in the 911 process," said Michael Cook.

He’s been the Emergency Management Coordinator for Andrews County for 12 years and the Chief Dispatcher for 32.

Now that Andrews is accepting text to 911, dispatchers still say you should call when you can, text if you can't.

"In the situation where a person can't speak to us, either because of a difficulty speaking, or because it might be unsafe for them,” Cook said. “We do have available now for them to text to 911."

This has been a year in the making, getting the equipment and training necessary.

The way it works is: you send a text to 911 stating your emergency.

"They need to tell us what the emergency is and then they need to tell us where they're at. We would prefer that they put the phone number in there, so that we can call them back if that's necessary," he explained.

For both voice and text calls, people should always state their location and verify the number they’re using.

After that, "You'll get a bounce back from the system asking for the address of your emergency. That's extremely important because without that information, it's very difficult for us to do what we need to do," Cook concluded.