Richland County residents can now text ‘911’ during emergencies


    The City of Columbia has announced that Richland County residents can text 911 for help if you have an emergency during Hurricane Florence.

    “’Text to 911’ is a new capability of the Richland County 911 System that residents can use as an alternative to communicate with an emergency telecommunicator,” the City of Columbia said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

    The service is available countywide for all residents.

    Officials say when utilizing the service, the initial text message to 911 should:

    • Be brief
    • Include the location of the emergency
    • Explain the type of assistance needed
    • Avoid use of abbreviations, symbols or emoticons

    When using the 911 option, be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the telecommunicator.

    “It is vitally important to provide an accurate address when possible,” city officials said. Texting to 911 will not provide the call center with your location.

    The Columbia-Richland 911 Call Center staff have been trained in using and responding to the new text message capabilities. Residents are urged to keep a few tips in mind about Text to 911:

    • Call if you can, text if you can’t. Calling 911 is preferred for requesting emergency assistance.
    • Ensure your wireless provider has Text to 911 capabilities.
    • Standard text message rates may apply.
    • Videos and photographs cannot be sent to 911 at this time.
    • Text to 911 may not be available outside of Richland County.

    Officials say calling 911 is still the fastest and preferred option, however, the texting service is available for times when texting is better. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) encourages agencies across the nation to make their call centers ‘Text to 911’ capable. For a list of areas supporting the new service, head over to the FCC website.

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