For decades, the message has been simple: dial 911 in an emergency. But in the East Bay that message is about to change to text 911.
The Richmond Police Department is taking the lead in Northern California. Starting this week, they can take more than phone calls.
Emergency dispatchers in Richmond answer hundreds of calls for help every day, but now they can take more than phone calls. Starting this week, people who live in Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington and San Pablo can send a text to 911. Dispatchers say that's a potentially life-saving option.
"If you're hiding in a closet and you have some assailants in a home, you don't want to give your location up," said communications supervisor Michael Schlemmer. "And for that, the text is going to be critical and crucial."
Richmond is the first agency in Northern California to launch the new system, but the program is already proving successful in Southern California. Last month in San Bernardino a hearing impaired woman suffering a medical emergency texted 911 and got the help she needed.