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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.

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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.
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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.
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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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