When faced with an emergency, you can text 911

When you have an emergency and need help, you call 911. However, that's not always an option for some people.

Monday morning, a woman needed help and was able to send text messages that ultimately led officials right to her.

Recording from dispatch: "Request to keep a lookout for a possible rape victim in a semi headed westbound from mile marker 33, i94. Call came in from Otter Tail County. She's texting them saying she was raped by the driver of the truck. Said the semi was red and black and yellow lines. Trailer's covered with red and yellow tarp. Truck number 2716."

For the victim in this situation, and many others, it's as simple as a text message to 911 and you are instantly in contact with dispatch in your area.

"Text to 911 works just like you would text anybody else,” said Mary Phillippi, Director of Red River Regional Dispatch Center. “You put in the number 911 and you text the message."

It's handled just like a 911 call where dispatch is able to text back and forth with you to send emergency responders.

"If people are in a situation where they can't call because they are scared or because they can't talk, they also have the capability to text 911 and get through,” Phillippi said. “Sometimes they are in a situation where they are with another person and it would be dangerous to call and to speak."

Phillippi says this can also be a great resource for people with disabilities.

She tells us if you are unable to communicate by talking, a text can be the difference between life and death.

"January to June of this year, we had over 48,000 911 calls and we had 26 texts to 911 calls,” Phillippi said. “Those 26 people who needed texts to 911, they were able to get through because we have it here."

Texting 911 is not available in every state, however, both North Dakota and Minnesota have the ability statewide to make sure officials are there when you need them.

Phillippi wants to remind people that if they can call, they should call. She says it's a more reliable way to communicate.

Also, 911 can not receive photos, videos or emojis. They will not receive your message if you include more than just a simple text.

More information: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/what-you-need-know-about-text-911