South Dakotans now have a new way to report emergencies.

The State Department of Public Safety (DPS) has announced that texting 9-1-1 is now an option for most state residents.

The DPS website says the new form of communication is best used by people with speech or hearing issues, those who are not able to call safely, and those who are unable to speak due to a medical emergency.

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To utilize the new system, type 911 in the 'to' field, then text the exact location and type of emergency before pressing the 'send' button.

Officials say abbreviations, pictures, slang or jargon, emojis, or group texts are not permissible and that once you have initiated a 9-1-1 text, the conversation should not be deleted and the phone should not be turned off until advised by emergency personnel.

DPS says there are some limitations associated with the texting option, including:

  • Longer response times because all communication is done in writing
  • Less accurate location services compared with phone calls
  • 160 character limit on messages
  • No language translation services

A couple of other important reminders:

  • Texting and driving is still illegal in South Dakota, even in emergencies
  • Sending a false 9-1-1 text is a crime

The text 9-1-1 service is available in all South Dakota counties, with the exception of Todd County. Residents who attempt to text 9-1-1 there will be advised to contact emergency services with a voice call.

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