Wireless cell phone customers in South Dakota can text to 911 when they can't call in an emergency. The text, like a phone call, will be routed to a local 911 dispatch center. "Text-to-911 should only be used in an emergency when you can't call 911," said Craig Price, cabinet secretary for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. "The Text-to-911 option would be good to use if speaking out loud would put the caller in danger or if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech impaired."

Text-to-911 is not yet 100% activated in Todd County. People texting 911 in that county will receive a message stating that text service is unavailable and they will be directed to make a 911 call instead.

People who are unable to call 911 should remember these steps about Text to 911:

  • Don't text and drive.
  • In the first text message, send the location and type of emergency.
  • Text in simple words; keep the text message short without the use of abbreviations or slang.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.
  • Voice calls to 911 are still the best and fastest way to contact 911.
  • Call 911 if you can, text if you can't.

For more information on the Text to 911 program in South Dakota, visit the Text-to-9-1-1 website. The state 911 Coordination Program is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.