The Riley County Police Department Emergency Communications Center has upgraded its infrastructure to allow people to send text messages to 911.

Officials said the transition to Next Generation 911, an internet-based system, is the beginning of enhanced capabilities such as more accurate caller location and a faster, more resilient emergency system. NG911 allows for text-to-911 services with the potential for sending and receiving other digital information and data in the future.

“This will provide emergency dispatchers a method to better serve our citizens as text-to-911 service becomes available for members of the deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired and nonverbal communities within Riley County,” Communications Center Manager Tyler Siefkes said in a statement.

RCPD said citizens should always call 911 first if possible. Texting will be another option for potentially harmful situations where speaking would put people in more danger, such as some domestic disputes and home invasions.

To send a text to 911, use the message icon on your cell phone and enter 911 (without dashes) in the number field. In the message, include the address or location of the emergency and the type of help needed, including police, fire and/or medical. Once a text conversation has been initiated, do not delete the message or turn off the phone until the dispatcher said it is OK.

The system does not allow pictures, emojis or videos.

A text or data plan with a major wireless provider is required to use the service.