YORK COUNTY-- It's being called the next generation of public safety. York County Emergency Management is the first jurisdiction in the country to allow people to send texts to 911.

The new service launched Monday afternoon. Although Verizon customers are the only people able to use it in the area, Chief of Emergency Communications Terry Hall says all four major wireless carriers have agreed to join by 2014.

'This is the future of public safety,' said Hall. 'Pretty soon everybody will be on board.'

The service will benefit the hearing impaired and those who need to stay quiet during an emergency call.

'This can help with home invasions or if someone has been held hostage,' said York County Sheriff Danny Diggs.

The service works like any other text message, and dispatchers are available to communicate back with the person texting.

Hall says a 911 call is still the preferred method for someone in need of help.

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