Horry County residents could soon text 911 in an emergency

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Horry County E911 is working to upgrade its system to allow a “text-to-911” feature.

“A lot of people text these days,” said Director of Horry County E911, Renee Hardwick. “That’s the way they communicate.”

Hardwick said the feature could help in several different situations but will certainly benefit people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“It’s instant communication for them and they have not had that before,” Hardwick added.

Not having direct access to 911 is a concern Abby Edwards, a deaf mother of four, has every day.

“If there was a fire or some kind of emergency, I would have to text somebody to call 911 for me,” explained Edwards. “I’ve had to do that before, for my daughter when she was six months old, and it was a very scary situation.”

Edwards had to text her mom, who thankfully lived down the road, and ask her to call 911 when she noticed her daughter was too pale and had blue lips.

“I never want to experience that again,” Edwards said. “I feel that texting 911 could be lifesaving and much quicker.”

Edwards and Hardwick agree it’s a feature needed for the deaf community, but say it could also be used in many other situations.

“If you have a domestic violence situation, where someone can’t talk, where it would cause them harm or put them in a situation that would be dangerous,” said Hardwick. “Or a kidnapping or something of that nature, we just want to be able to help people and technology, unfortunately, is moving faster than 911.”

Hardwick said their current system is about five years old and she hopes to have the upgrades done within a year.

“Anything we do, if we save one life, then it’s worth all the energy and the money we’ve spent to do it,” Hardwick explained.

Edwards said having the ability to text 911  will give her peace of mind when she’s home alone with the kids.

“Texting 911 would give me that same direct access to 911 that everyone else has,” Edwards expressed.

The FCC has a list of counties with the “text-to-911” feature, which are listed below.

South Carolina:

Charleston, Clarendon, Dorchester, Fairfield, Greenville, Kershaw, York

North Carolina:

Alamance, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Burke, Burke, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Chowan, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Gates, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Haywood, Henderson, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, Martin, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Orange, Pasquotank, Person, Pitt, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rowan, Rutherford, Scotland, Stanly, Stokes, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Washington, Watauga, Wilson, Yancey