Indiana residents with Verizon Wireless service can now text 911 dispatchers in nearly a third of the state's counties as part of a push that will benefit the deaf, those with speech-impairments or people in hostage situations who are unable to speak to dispatchers.

Statewide 911 Board Executive Director Barry Ritter said that as of Wednesday morning emergency dispatchers in 28 Indiana counties had been equipped and trained to handle text-to-911 calls.

"Our goal is to have the entire state up and running by the end of the year," he said.

Anyone who attempts to text 911 in a county that doesn't have that capability will receive a bounce-back message saying to call 911, Ritter said.

Law enforcement officials cautioned, however, that in most cases people who can should call 911, rather than send a text message.

*For the time being, only certain states and counties have call centers that support 911 texting, but the goal is to get this service rolled out nationwide as soon as possible.

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