INVERNESS, Fla. - Citrus County residents are now one text message away from life-saving help. The sheriff's office activated text-to-911 service Friday, joining 39 other counties across the state to offer the service.
It could save your life when it's too dangerous to talk, sending a text message instead of calling 911.
"It's quiet, it's discreet, and definitely I can see the advantages, sure," said Alex Santa.
Citrus County activated its text to 911 service Friday. Connecting people with police, fire or medical help after answering a few questions and hitting send.
"If you can make a voice phone call, that would be the preferable option," said Citrus County EOC Captain, David DeCarlo. "But we understand there may be situations where making a phone call and talking to a 911 intake operator is just not conducive to their environment, such as maybe a domestic violence or any other situation where an individual is hiding from a violent encounter."
Texting can also make it easier for someone with hearing or speech issues to get emergency help.
According to the Florida Department of Management Services, 40 of our 67 counties currently have text to 911 technology. Here in the bay area, Hillsborough and Polk Counties are the only localities that do not offer the option.
Thanks to a law signed by Governor DeSantis two weeks ago, every county in the state will have the service by 2022.
"I don't think it's gonna get used a lot, I really don't, but it's there if they need it and that's what's important," DeCarlo said.
Two years ago, a text message to the 911 center in Hernando County helped capture an escaped prisoner. While Joshua Holmes hid in the attic, the homeowner typed "Josh Holmes is in my house, I'm afraid to call, I have two small children in my house with me."
Deputies eventually captured Holmes and took him back to jail.
"I do think it's a step forward, and I think ultimately it will be better to have more options to get to police if you need it," said Emil White.
For more information about text to 911 services in the state of Florida, visit the Florida Department of Management Services' website: https://www.dms.myflorida.com/business_operations/state_technology/public_safety_communications/florida_911/statewide_text_to_911_initiative