People will be able to call for an ambulance by sending a text using a new system.

The new service is being trialled which allows residents to get help in an emergency by texting 999.

It is designed to help the deaf or those with speech impairments so they can raise the alarm quickly and easily using a mobile phone.

Trials of the system have begun this week and will involve real people sending genuine emergency messages.

If it is successful, the scheme could become permanent early next year.

A relay assistant will then speak the text message to the emergency service and type a reply which is converted into a text message and sent back to the sender.

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SECAmb) is encouraging people who would find the text system useful to register with the new scheme so that it can be properly tested over the coming months.

To take part in the trial text the word “register” to 999. It is important to register as people who do not but send a text message to 999 will receive an automated reply saying they are not registered.

Textphone users can still contact the emergency services by Text Relay by dialling 18000.