You can now text emergencies to 911 in Gila County.

It is now possible to text 911 in the event of an emergency in Gila County.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Payson Police Department announced that the new service started Monday, July 15.

Texting 911 will help those with hearing or speech disabilities or those in remote or unsecure locations where a phone call could be unreliable or unsafe, according to officials.

“Text to 911 should only be used in an emergency situation, when placing a call is not possible,” said Gila County Sheriff Adam Shepherd, “and this expansion of our service gives me a reason for another important reminder: never abuse 911 — and make sure to tell your kids that it’s a crime to text or call 911 with a false report or prank call. And never, repeat — never — text and drive.”

Text to 911 is live in Gila County allowing wireless customers with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to send a text message up to 140 characters directly to 911 to report an emergency. Also:

• Your plan must allow texting in order to text to 911

• Text in simple words — do not use abbreviations or slang

• Send your location and the type of emergency. Automatic location information from a text to 911 is not equal to current location technology

• Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker

• Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911 at this time

• Text-to-911 cannot include more than one person, do not add 911 to a text group

• Text-to-911 is not available if you’re roaming, and bear in mind that text-to-911 service is not available everywhere in Arizona

• Successful texts to 911 should generate a response; if you do not receive a confirmation from 911, try to contact 911 by voice

• As with all text messages, text to 911 may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all

• If you’re in danger from being overheard and are texting 911 to remain hidden, silence your phone.

Besides updating 911 capabalities, the GCSO also has an app where residents can get more information and report speeders.

Since last fall, more than 6,000 people have downloaded the free app (search “Gila County Sheriff” in the app store).

The app includes: See-and-Say to report speeders, with categories for motorists in northern and also southern Gila County; the We-Tip anonymous tip line to report suspected drug activity, burglary or other infractions; phone numbers and social media links; notifications such as public safety alerts, or BOLO (“be-on-the-lookout”) posts; daily mugshots and other news from the GCSO.

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