Texting 911 in Bucks is available

BUCKS COUNTY

Texting 911 is available

DOYLESTOWN Bucks County residents can now text 911 during emergencies after the county's Department of Emergency Communications this week enabled the new technology.

The service, previously in use in surrounding counties, including Montgomery, is designed to be a secondary option during an emergency, officials said.

Phone calls are still the preferred option for emergency responders, since they provide the ability to ask pertinent questions of 911 callers and gather information more quickly. Texting should only be used in situations in which a call would be not possible or dangerous, officials said.

"The clear message for this new service needs to be: 'Call if you can. Text if you can't,' " Audrey Kenny, the county's acting director of emergency communications, said in a statement.

Kenny said she was excited to deploy the new technology, and noted that it will likely evolve to allow texters to send photos and videos to dispatchers.

For now, though, those who use the service are encouraged to send the address of the emergency in the first text and to avoid using abbreviations. Officials also request that texters reply quickly and briefly to emergency responders if they send questions. - Chris Palmer