As of this week, callers can now text their requests for fire, police, or ambulance, to the emergency call center in Black Hawk County, Iowa -- both a nationwide first and a definite improvement for deaf and hard-of-hearing residents who have thus far had to rely on TDD devices. Unlike voice calls, however, the 911 operator can't get your location from a text message, meaning that the caller must first respond to a request for their city or zip code before the call gets routed. Currently, only i wireless subscribers (a local carrier affiliated with T-Mobile) can use the service, but plans are afoot to bring other carriers on board as well. Other future upgrades include the ability to accept video and picture messages. All the operators ask is that you refrain from sending them those silly chain text messages -- that sort of thing can be really distracting when you're busy saving lives.

HDTV Listings for August 6, 2009