Text-to-911 service now in Umatilla County - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Text-to-911 service now in Umatilla County

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UMATILLA COUNTY, OR - We use our phones for pretty much everything in our lives. Now, there's something new you can use it for in Umatilla County - and it's pretty important.

It's been less than a month since the text-to-911 service launched in their dispatch center. It's as simple as it sounds. When you go to create a text, you type in "911" as the recipient and text your location. However, you can't use abbreviations, emojis, pictures or videos. It's also important to know that if you have bad cell service or the internet is down, your text won't go through.

We spoke to Captain Kathy Lieuallen with the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office and she says this new service is already helping a lot more people.

"We wanted to do it for our deaf community, for the hearing impaired and for the speech impaired community, and for those that are in situations that are dangerous and it's not safe for them to call 9-1-1," said Lieuallen.

Captain Lieuallen stressed "call if you can, text if you can't" because it's easier for responders to talk to you on the phone.

The text-to-911 service is also available in Yakima and Grant Counties as well as Milton-Freewater. Benton and Franklin Counties don't have that option.