People are constantly incriminating themselves with poorly timed or damaging text messages, but one Iowa county is finally allowing people to get themselves out of trouble with their texting thumbs. According to the AP, the emergency call center located in the county jail in Waterloo, Iowa is the first in the nation to accept texts directed to 911. The responders can even reply to the emergency messages via computer.

The service, so far, is only available to residents of Black Hawk County who subscribe to a T-Mobile wireless provider. County police chief Thomas Jennings said, “I think there’s a need to get out front and get this technology available.” There is definitely a need for the service (which law enforcement and emergency dispatch should have begun installing years ago), especially since texting has become the favored, and basically default, communication tool of many teens.

Emergency text services are also greatly needed for deaf, hard-of-hearing, or mute victims stuck in precarious positions. Perhaps the most beneficial aspect, though, could be the ability to more accurately and efficiently respond to kidnapped victims or hostages, like the Oregon teenager who, last year, saved herself from her captor by texting with a friend.

Via Switched