HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut residents can now use text messages to reach 911 emergency dispatchers.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday that the state has launched the text-to-911 service as part of a new emergency communications system.

Officials say voice calls to 911 are still the best and fastest way to contact emergency services. The text service is aimed at people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability. It's also intended for when it's unsafe to place a voice call, such as during home invasions or acts of domestic violence.

Authorities say to use the new service, enter 911 into the "to" or "recipient" field, text a brief message that includes the location of the emergency and which emergency services are needed and then follow incoming directions.