On This Day

#OTD in 1968
The First 9-1-1 Call

You know the number to dial in an emergency, but it wasn’t always that way.

Why we have Haleyville, Alabama to thank for answering the call.

On This Day

Putting It On the Map

  • Safety officials & Congress took 10 years before the FCC & AT&T decided to create a nat’l emergency system.
  • Not all citizens used AT&T; Local phone companies had to agree.
  • Alabama Telephone Co., mad it was excluded from talks, selected Haleyville, designed & built its system in a week, & made the first 9-1-1 call two weeks before AT&T.
On This Day

Why 9-1-1?

  • Simple & easy to remember.
  • Dialed quickly in emergency – even on a rotary phone.
  • Never previously used as an area code or service code.
  • U.K.’s 9-9-9, the first universal emergency number in the world, would be too easy to misdial.
  • Canada agreed; adopting America’s 9-1-1 in the 1970s.
On This Day

9-1-1 in Modern Times

  • Text to 9-1-1 not available in most of the U.S.; FCC: system needs to be updated.
  • If your cell is charged & can reach a signal, you can call 9-1-1 without a provider contract.
  • State laws differ, but calling 9-1-1 in a non-emergency may result in criminal penalties.
  • Remember: you pay for 9-1-1 service through provider fees.
On This Day

By the end of 1976, 9-1-1 emergency system served 17% of the U.S. population. Today, it reaches almost 97% of America. With 80% of those calls from wireless devices, a far cry from the rotary phone used 51 years ago today.

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