You can now text your emergency to 9-1-1 in Los Angeles County

The Southland's 911 emergency-response system will enter the smart-phone era Friday, when residents across Los Angeles County will be able to send a text message to 911 if they are unable to call for help.

The Text to 911 system is aimed primarily at hearing- or speech- impaired residents who might not be able to call 911, but it is available to anyone who might be in danger but unable to make a phone call.

"It is important that all residents are able to contact police, fire and emergency medical services when needed,'' Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. "Texting is widely used to communicate, so it only makes sense that we allow residents to use this technology, Text to 911, for emergency services as well.''

Long Beach officials said people texting 911 should ensure that the phone's location services are enabled. Text messages should be brief, and should not contain abbreviations, slang or emojis. For now, the service is only available in English, Long Beach officials said.

The first text message sent should contain the location, a short description of the emergency, and the type of help needed. The sender should be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 dispatcher.

Reggie Harrison, Long Beach director of disaster preparedness and emergency communications, said that despite the availability of texting, ``I want to remind everyone that calling 9-1-1 remains the most effective method to access emergency personnel.''

Representatives of various state and local agencies will hold a news conference at Cal State Long Beach Friday morning to formally introduce the system.

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