BENTON COUNTY, Mo.- People in Benton County, Missouri now have another way of reaching out for help.

A new system upgrade is allowing people to also have the ability to send a text message to 9-1-1 during an emergency.

“It’s just like messenger almost on your computer,” said Jessica Mayfield, Benton County 9-1-1 Director. “They text and it sends an audible alarm into dispatch. We open it, we can see the message, and we text back.”

Mayfield said a lot of areas in the county have spotty cell service.

Sometimes, she said, it can be easier to get a text to send out instead of a call.

While calling is still preferred, there could be situations when calling could put someone in danger.

“Domestic violence situations, kidnappings, active shooters, home invasions would be something that you definitely wouldn’t want to call 9-1-1 if you’re hiding in the closet,” said Mayfield. “You don’t want to alert the offender.”

Benton County is one of only 36 counties in the state who have this option.

Text to 9-1-1, Mayfield said, will also bridge the gap between members of the deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired communities.

Local residents told OzarksFirst they could see this new service helping a lot of people.