Verizon callers in Pittsburgh-area can text 911

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – Verizon cellphone users can now text 911 messages to county dispatcher who cover the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, and officials are hoping other cell providers start offering the service soon.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says residents are still urged to call 911 and speak to a dispatcher because that’s still quicker in most instances. But the texting option was made available for people who have speech or hearing problems, or who may be in a situation where texting is safer than a voice call.

The county’s 911 center is still working on upgrades that would let 911 callers send photos, videos and other attachments.

Texts will be limited to 160 characters. Dispatchers will respond by text, too, but officials warn that comes with a 10- to 15-second delay.

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