You may not have to call 911 in an emergency next year.
Horry County is upgrading its 911 call system, and will introduce a text 911 feature.
The text feature could by ready by next summer, said Horry County E-911 Deputy Director Renee Hardwick. It will help the deaf community, as well as anyone else who would benefit from emergency services without having to talk to an operator.
“It will help in a domestic situation,” Hardwick said. “Maybe someone could text for help but they couldn’t speak because the person who was maybe threatening them or being violent with them would be in the room and it wouldn’t be safe for them to speak. Maybe somebody was grabbed or something.”
The goal is to communicate with callers in the safest way possible, although talking to an operator is still the most efficient way to get help in an emergency, she said.
“Most of your younger generation today, if you ask them, would tell you they can already text 911, but they can not in this county,” said Hardwick, who added that other counties trying a text 911 feature have not seen a “great influx” of 911 texts.
“People are still calling because talking is faster a lot of times,” she said. “Everybody thought we would be inundated, but we have not been, to date.”