You can now text 911 in case of an emergency in a west Michigan county

Kent County has rolled out its first week of Text-To-911

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Those in an emergency can now text 911 when they are in Kent county on Michigan’s west side.

Kent County Sheriff’s Office has launched a test run where dispatchers can receive 911 text messages. According to WOOD, an NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, the west Michigan dispatches have received an average of six texts daily, and that number is rising.

Police told WOOD that this service is helpful for those that are deaf, hard of hearing, or those that are too afraid to make a 911 phone call. This service is also encouraged for those whose primary language is not English. With the 911 texts, these emergencies can translate about 130 languages into English.

“You simply open up your text message application, whichever one you prefer, and you type 911 into the to field just like you would dial and then type your message,” Kent County Sheriff Office Communications Center Assistant Manager Jennifer Robinson told WOOD. “We’ve really seen kind of the standard texts from people who aren’t able to make phone calls to us as well as we’ve started seeing some alarms via text message instead of a phone call, which has been beneficial as well.”

Officials ask that, if you can, to call 911 before sending dispatchers a text. They also ask that you make sure to include your location first, especially as they anticipate an increase in emergency text messages.

So far, this initiative has been successful.

On Christmas morning, a 49-year-old woman in Lowell Township texted 911 and was able to stay in continual contact with deputies via text message.

“She had alleged that she was assaulted and (was) also threatened that if she called and talked to anyone that she could be harmed,” Kent County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Eric Brunner told WOOD. “She was able to remove herself to a bedroom and was able to interact with our dispatch staff, who stayed in continual contact via text message until our deputies were able to arrive at the house. She let them in, and they were able to help resolve the situation.”