Philadelphia suburbanites will soon be able to call for help in an emergency by text message.
Berks, Bucks, Chester and Montgomery Counties have agreed to launch in the next few months a joint service letting people text 911.
Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro says the counties feel that adopting texting is simply catching up with how people communicate these days.
But he also sees the texting service as especially useful in certain situations, "[if] someone has them trapped in a closet or in the trunk of a car and if by using their voice to access 911 they would let their captors know where they are, that puts those individuals at risk," he said.
He hopes texting authorities will pose less of a danger.
Emergency dispatchers in the participating counties will get training on how to respond so they can extract as much information as possible in just a few characters.