MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. - From a young age you've heard, "in case of emergency dial 911." What you may have overlooked is not everyone has the ability to speak or listen to a dispatcher.

"This is huge for our speech and hearing community who have those kinds of impairments because otherwise, we could spend a lot of time trying to get a voice prompt from somebody calling who can't speak to us or can't hear us," explained Jeanie Pharis, Director of the Morgan County 911 Center.

Now people in Morgan County can text 911.

Residents can also use it in situations where personal safety is at risk.

"They're hiding in a closet, they don't want the person that's in their house to be able to hear them," Pharis added. "So now they can actually text with the 911 operator and not alert whoever may be in the house with them that they're actually calling 911."

The director of the Morgan County 911 center says there's a geofence around these text messages so if you send a text from Morgan County, it'll end up at the Morgan County 911 Center. However, dispatchers do have the ability to forward text messages to other agencies, if that's where you need help.

That's as long as the other agency has the ability to receive text information, if not Morgan County dispatchers will process an actual phone call for you.

Pharis said the best thing to do is send your location first.

Then specify whether you need fire, police or medical help.

Morgan County dispatchers say there is a slight delay initially, about thirty seconds.

But once users are connected, message delivery on both ends is nearly instantaneous.