SALISBURY , Md.- A new public safety tool allows people of Wicomico County to text 9-1-1 instead of calling.

Announced Tuesday, the new text message system allows people of Wicomico County to text the emergency hotline to potentially help save lives. The slogan of the new tool is, “Call if you can. Text if you can’t.” This signifies that in a dire situation, you should always call 9-1-1 first.

According to the county’s Department of Emergency Services, the text messaging system supports 160 characters per message. The system does not allow people to send multimedia messaging, such as photos and videos. 

The county says, “Residents who are deaf or have speech disabilities, or anyone in an emergency situation where a voice call would be dangerous or impossible, can use their cellphones to send and receive 9-1-1 requests by text.” But if for some reason the messaging season is not available, they can use a TTY or telecommunications relay service, if possible.

Wicomico County wants to make it clear that texts are back up tools. Officials say people are still urged to call 9-1-1, if possible.

A big issue with the text-to-9-1-1 system is that the call center cannot determine the person’s location.