(CBS) — Starting today, people who need emergency help in some west and northwest suburbs have a new tool at their disposal, but officials don’t want it to be used, for the most part.

The tool is texting-to-911 and, as of today, it’s being used by the Tri-Comm, Quad-Comm, KaneComm and Aurora 911 systems in suburbs such as St. Charles, Batavia, Geneva, Aurora, South Barrington, Carpentersville and others.

“We want to encourage the public not to use it, if possible, and only to use it if they cannot speak,” says Stacey Hall, executive director of Tri-Comm.

She says the system is pretty basic and that dispatchers will not know where a person texting is located until the texter passes along that information. Hall also says, “It’s a slower two-way conversation (by texting) which is why we want people to call us if they can talk.”

Hall says that, if you do find yourself in a situation where it’s unsafe to talk or you’re unable physically to talk or are hearing impaired, be sure to give as much info about where you are and what the emergency is in that first text.