Emergency services in Abilene and Taylor County have received an upgrade, and 911 service can now be contacted using Text to 911 messaging.

The new way of requesting emergency service has been put in place primarily to better assist the deaf or hearing impaired, or for people who aren't able to make a traditional 911 voice call.

Wayne Brandt, Abilene Police Department Communications Manager told KTXS, “It basically SMS short message text, just like anybody would use day to day". He adds that when you use Text to 911, be sure to give specific information. “The location of the event is the most important...If we don’t know where the event is occurring, then it will be difficult for us to get help to the right place.

The upgrade in service is in response to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) setting new rules in August, requiring that telephone companies to be capable of handling text to 911 calls by the end of 2014.

At this point, it's probably a good idea to use traditional phone 911 service when possible. Text messaging is not always instantaneous, and in a life-threatening emergency this could be critical.