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Today is the 48th Anniversary of 9-1-1 in the USA

Date: 2016-02-16
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The first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system in the USA went into service on this date - Feburary 16th - in 1968, in Haleyville, Alabama.

It was only 35 days after AT&T had announced their designation of 9-1-1 as a universal emergency number in the United States, following the adoption of similar 3-digit emergency numbers in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s and early 1960s (9-9-9 in Australia, New Zealand, and Winnipeg, Ontario in 1957-59, although Great Britain had implemented 9-9-9 as early as 1937).  AT&T selected 9-1-1 presumably because on rotary telephones it took less time for the dial to return when dialing "1" than "9" and thus the call was made quicker.

The first 9-1-1 call was made on February 16, 1968 in Haleyville, Alabama. Happy 48th Birthday, 9-1-1 !!! The image shows the local 2005 9-1-1 festival in Hayleville.

The first-ever 9-1-1 call in the US was placed by Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite from Haleyville City Hall to U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill at the city's police station. Bevill reportedly answered the phone with "Hello." Attending with Fite was Haleyville mayor James Whitt. At the police station with Bevill was Gallagher and Alabama Public Service Commission director Eugene "Bull" Connor (formerly the Birmingham police chief involved in federal desegregation of the city's schools). Fitzgerald was at the ATC central office serving Haleyville, and actually observed the call pass through the switching gear, as the mechanical equipment clunked out "9-1-1." The phone used to answer the first 9-1-1 call, a bright red model, is now in a museum in Haleyville. Some accounts of the event claim that, "Later, the two (Bevill and Fite) said they exchanged greetings, hung up and 'had coffee and doughnuts.'"

 

- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (2/16/16)

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