If you’re in an emergency but can’t call 911, you’ll soon be able to send a text message instead.

Emergency centers across the state are working to make this a reality.

Next Generation 911 is a new statewide system that incorporates modern technology to upgrade the current voice-based 911 system to allow people to send texts, pictures and video to dispatchers.  

Hamilton County 911 has spent several years and millions of dollars getting infrastructure in place.

Executive Director John Stuermer says the center is ready.

“Our CAD system and our phone system are all NG911 compliant so we are poised and ready to take advantage of what comes down the line,” Stuermer told Channel 3.

Emergency centers across Tennessee are waiting on the state to give them the green light to begin using the texting feature. Stuermer says he’s been told that could happen in the next few months.

The text service would be an important tool for people who have speech or hearing problems.

“That's one that really is important to allow us to interact with that group of people and give them the service they need,”said Stuermer.

It would also be crucial in crimes like home invasions where people are hiding and can’t give away their location.

“There are a lot of tweaks and a lot of things that we really have to look at to make sure that it's done right because once we offer that to the public we have to make sure it is ready,” Stuermer told Channel 3.

Despite the new technology, Stuermer said calling 911 will still be the best way to report an emergency.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board told Channel 3, they plan to test the system this spring and summer. It’ll then be up to individual districts to determine if they’re ready to move forward.