By Andrea Nakano

CONCORD (CBS SF) — Starting Monday, the Concord Police Department will officially go online with a new method of reaching 911. Not only will you be able to call, you can now start texting them as well.

The Concord Police Department has been testing the text to 911 system for a few weeks now. They’ve dealt with a few non emergency texts coming through but they’re hoping this will be another way for people to get the help they need.

Sgt. Kevin Halm said it’s already saved a life after a string of texts talked a woman out of taking her own life.

“That was a long process,” Halm added, “but we were able to get her the help that she needed.”

This new system is geared to aid those who are hearing or voice impaired but it could also help crime victims remain silent during scenarios such as an active shooter or kidnapping incident.

Halm said the key will be to text your exact location and write a brief and concise message describing the emergency. Parents we talked with in Concord seem to like the idea.

Beatrice Musisi Kasozi said: “Unfortunately we have to plan for it and I think that’s what the city of Concord is doing.”

Paula Dillon added: “Kids text their parents because they are afraid to make noise in situations like that so they can text 911 and be really clear.”

The Concord Police Department admits, there are some drawbacks to texting. There could be language barriers and dispatchers could miss out on nuances that they are trained to pick up by phone. If you can, the advice is to to reach them the old fashioned way.

“It would be better to call 911 so we can hear what’s going on and allows us to find people’s location,” Ha;lm said.

Only a few agencies have the text to 911 system available. If it’s not up and running in your area, you will get a standard text back asking you to call 911.

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