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Have an emergency? If you're in Hamilton County, you can now text 911 for help.

The county is the first state in Tennessee to offer the service countywide, according to a news release announcing the program Thursday. 

John Stuermer, executive director for Hamilton County Emergency Communications District, said in a statement that the county had been working with the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board for the past several years to get the service locally. 

To use the service, text your location and a brief description of the emergency to 911 using your texting device, the release states. Users will receive a text response from a public safety telecommunicator, who will communicate with the caller to obtain additional information as needed.

Other tips:

*Keep texts simple and brief

*Service is available only in English at this time

*Texts can't include emoji's, photos, videos or other multimedia

*Texts sent to more than one recipient will not go through

*If 911 texting service is not available or temporarily out of service, a caller will receive a bounce-back text message telling them to make a voice call to 911

Stuermer add: "Traditional voice calls to 911 are still the fastest and most reliable way to reach emergency help and should always be the first option."

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