Costa Rica’s 9-1-1 emergency service cannot receive text messages. But that doesn’t always stop people from texting the service in an emergency, not knowing their pleas for help won’t be seen.

That will change in January 2014.

The emergency service this week began testing SMS texting,  designed to enable those needing 9-1-1 assistance to send a text message – regardless of the carrier – when they are unable to make a call.

911The text messaging is most useful  to those individuals who are hearing impaired and for those who are unable to make a voice call.

Gerardo García, spokesperson for the 9-1-1 emergency service said people should keep in mind that sending a text message should be used only when calling is not an option.

Garcia added that there will be no interruption of the current service during the testing and migration period.

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