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FLORENCE — Pinal County residents can now text 911 for help.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office started offering the service to residents on Thursday.

The service allows people who may have hearing problems, may have a speech impediment or are not able to speak because of a medical emergency or because of a dangerous situation, to contact 911.

“Having the option to text our 911 operators will help us ensure that all residents have access to emergency services, no matter what the situation,” said Sheriff Mark Lamb. “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”

To text 911 in an emergency, residents should open the text messaging feature on their phone and type “911” in the “To” field. Then they should type the message they want to send to 911. Residents should include the exact location and nature of the emergency in their message. The Sheriff’s Office recommends avoiding slang or text abbreviations in 911 text messages. Videos and photos cannot be sent to 911 using the text service. Then push the send button.

The Sheriff’s Office recommends that residents be prepared to answer additional questions and follow instructions via text from 911 operators. The office also warns residents not to text and drive, even when contacting 911.

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Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa is a reporter covering the city of Casa Grande and the surrounding area, as well as Central Arizona College. She can be reached at sadams@pinalcentral.com.

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