BOSTON (AP) _ Massachusetts cellphone users can now text 9-1-1 for help.

The state 911 Department said in an announcement Wednesday that all emergency call centers now have the ability to receive a text.

Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas Turco says the upgrade to the 911 system ``will save lives.''

Officials say it will also help the deaf and hard of hearing, who previously relied on a text telephone system.

Sending a text to 911 works the same way as sending an ordinary message. Anyone who needs help should type ``911'' in the ``to'' or ``recipient'' field and then type their message in the message field.

People are encouraged to text 911 only when calling is not possible.