Marshall County E911 will soon be offering a text option for citizens to contact 911 in an emergency.

Text-to-911 is an initiative that emerged as a result of the Virginia Tech campus shooting when multiple students tried to text 911 for help, but dispatch never received them.

Wireless phone users are reminded to make a voice call to 911 when possible. However, the program allows emergency call centers to accept text messages through specialized technology in cooperation with cell phone service providers.

The text option provides people in emergency situations that might not be able to safely make a 911 call, such as an abduction, home invasion or active shooter, to discreetly seek help.

If a person attempts to send a text to 911 where the service is not available, FCC rules require wireless carriers and other text messaging providers to send an automatic "bounce-back" message that it was not received. This is to minimize the risk of a sender mistakenly believing the 911 text message was received.

An inaugural text will be sent at 3:30 p.m. today at the Marshall County E911 center to launch the service.

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