From the first 9-1-1 call placed in Haleyville, Alabama in 1968 to today, a whole lot of people have been helped through life-threatening emergencies. A big THANKS to all those who do the responding!!
“Help!”. Something we hear often at KHT. Mostly from loyal customers and new prospects unhappy with their distortion sensitive thermal processing results. Sometimes their materials under-perform, then production slows, impacting costs. Sometimes they are just trying to keep things on schedule. Often, it’s my favorite – those PIA (Pain In The @%$) Jobs! – the ones that cost you time and money, bringing everything to a screeching halt and just wrecking your day. About 60 years ago, the President’s Commission understood the importance of HELP, and decided it was time to create a national “single number” people could call. Just like our PIA call to action, people jump right on it – fire, police, and other emergency responders. This weekend marks the anniversary of the first call 9-1-1 – that amazing universal number we often take for granted. It’s managed by the NENA – 13,000 members and 47 chapters strong – dedicated to saving lives, by providing an effective and accessible 9-1-1 service for North America. Here’s some trivia to learn more 9-1-1, NENA, and how it all got started. Big high five to those great people, always on the front lines, ready to respond. Thanks Wikipedia and NENA for the info.
- The three-digit telephone number “9-1-1” has been designated as the “Universal Emergency Number,” for citizens throughout the United States to request emergency assistance. It is intended as a nationwide telephone number and gives the public fast and easy access to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
- The NENA organization has been connected to 9-1-1 every step of the way. Serving as a link in the delivery of emergency services, 9-1-1 has, throughout its evolution, become recognized as a great asset throughout the country.
- The first catalyst for a nationwide emergency telephone number was in 1957, when the National Association of Fire Chiefs recommended use of a single number for reporting fires.
- In 1967, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended that a “single number should be established” nationwide for reporting emergency situations. The use of different telephone numbers for each type of emergency was determined to be contrary to the purpose of a single, universal number.
- Other Federal Government Agencies and various governmental officials also supported and encouraged the recommendation. As a result of the immense interest in this issue, the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders turned to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a solution. In November 1967, the FCC met with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) to find a means of establishing a universal emergency number that could be implemented quickly.
- In 1968, AT&T announced that it would establish the digits 9-1-1 (nine-one-one) as the emergency code throughout the United States. The code 9-1-1 was chosen because it best fit the needs of all parties involved. First, and most important, it met public requirements because it is brief, easily remembered, and can be dialed quickly. Second, because it is a unique number, never having been authorized as an office code, area code, or service code, it best met the long-range numbering plans and switching configurations of the telephone industry.
- Congress backed AT&T’s proposal and passed legislation allowing use of only the numbers 9-1-1 when creating a single emergency calling service, thereby making 9-1-1 a standard emergency number nationwide.
- On February 16, 1968, Senator Rankin Fite completed the first 9-1-1 call made in the United States in Haleyville, Alabama. The serving telephone company was then Alabama Telephone Company. This Haleyville 9-1-1 system is still in operation today.
- In March 1973, the White House’s Office of Telecommunications issued a national policy statement which recognized the benefits of 9-1-1, encouraged the nationwide adoption of 9-1-1, and provided for the establishment of a Federal Information Center to assist units of government in planning and implementation.
- In the early 1970s, AT&T began the development of sophisticated features for the 9-1-1 with a pilot program in Alameda County, California. The feature was “selective call routing.” This pilot program supported the theory behind the Executive Office of Telecommunication’s Policy.
- By the end of 1976, 9-1-1 was serving about 17% of the population. By ‘79, approximately 26% of the population of the United States had 9-1-1 service, and by ‘87, those figures had grown to indicate that 50% had access. Today, pproximately 96% of the geographic US is covered by some type of 9-1-1.
- Over 80% of 911 calls in the United States are placed from wireless phones, and the rate is increasing. About 240 million calls are made each year.
- Some Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) report that 15%–20% of incoming 911 calls are non-emergencies. An emergency is a life-threatening situation where every second counts, such as a heart attack, uncontrolled asthma attack, child birth in progress, any event involving large amounts of blood, uncontrolled fire, a life-threatening event such as a knife fight, an armed robbery in progress, or a serious car accident (not a fender bender).
- While North America uses 911 as an emergency number, other countries dial 999. For all members of the European Union and several other countries, 112 is an emergency number that can be dialed for free of charge.
- The world’s oldest emergency phone number is the U.K’s 999 number that was introduced on June 30, 1937. It was implemented after a call to the fire brigade was held in a queue with the telephone company. The delay cost five women their lives in the fire.
- The first arrest due to an emergency call happened on July 8, 1937, at 4:20 a.m. when the wife of John Stanley Beard dialed 999 to report a burglar outside her home in England. The burglar, 24-year-old Thomas Duffys, was arrested.
- North America’s first emergency telephone number, 999, was first introduced in Winnipeg, Canada. There were originally eight women Emergency Telephone Operators.
- In 1996, a teenager in Sweden hacked into a Southern Bell computer system. He created a computer code that made simultaneous 911 calls to several counties in Florida. He managed to jam several 911 switches.
- Known as the “The City Where 911 Began,” Haleyville, Alabama, holds a 911 festival every year that honors all police, fire, and emergency personnel.
- The phone used to answer the first 911 call in the United States is in a museum in Haleyville, Alabama. A duplicate is still used at the police station there.
- A woman in Deltona, Florida, was arrested after she called 911 four times to complain about a nail technician doing a poor job on her nails. Even with a police deputy sitting next to her, she still called 911 to complain that her nails were too short.
Click here to read other silly calls – thanks People Magazine
(top left) The very first 9-1-1 call was made to this red phone. (top right) floor graphic at Haleyville city hall. (row two) Commemorative plaque at Haleyville, AL. (row three left) Senator Rankin Fite. (row three right) Haleyville, Alabama, holds a 911 festival every year. (bottom) An early 9-1-1 dispatch center and today’s typical look.