We take for granted that we can grab our phone and dial 911 and help will be on the way. That wasn’t always the case. Until 1968, people had to dial “O” for the operator and hope to be connected to the correct emergency service…or you had to know the phone number of the fire station.
The very first 911 call in the US was made on February 16, 1968, in Haleyville, AL and the rest is history.
Drive an hour and 20 minutes or so, northwest from Birmingham and you’ll find the small town of Haleyville, AL.
It was small town ingenuity and gumption really, that resulted in that first 911 call being made there. Bob Gallagher the president of a rural telephone company took the initiative to kick off the first 911 emergency system 50 years ago.
Via- Twitter.The call was the very first use of the now universal three-digit emergency number, 911, that quickly connects us to dispatchers and first responders.
“Personally, I think all Alabamians — especially in Haleyville — swell with pride knowing that the work and ingenuity to make this idea a reality came to fruition here.” Haleyville Chamber of Commerce President Mike Evans
From Haleyville to Nome, Alaska
Nome, Alaska, was next to implement a 911 service on Feb. 22, 1968. Then in March 1973, the White House Office of Telecommunications issued a national policy statement encouraging nationwide adoption of 911. Today there are over 200 million 911 calls made every year on the US.
The brave first responders unfortunately are in the news a lot these day; dedicated professionals, heroes really, who get to us quickly in time of need or crisis. We couldn’t get that help without the 911 services and dispatchers.
Video, text and photos
As technology evolves quickly, so does the 911 technology.
What’s next? NextGen 911 is an initiative to modernize decades-old 9-1-1 infrastructure. Why is it important? Because it’ll take 911 into the next 50 years, helping to create a more reliable and improved experience for those calling for help. And it will let the public communicate with 911 via pictures, videos and text.
This will help 911 dispatchers more accurately assess an emergency to pinpoint the right response. Plus, it gives us more ways to interact with 911 when voice isn’t an option. Or when an image can say it better.
AT&T is on the forefront of NextGen 911, and First Net is a lifesaving communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders and public safety community. So what’s it for, and how does it work?
Well, FirstNet will help 911 dispatchers communicate more quickly with police, fire and EMS. Plus, FirstNet can be used with NextGen 911 to create an efficient flow of communications from the caller to the 911 dispatcher to the first responder.
Here’s the idea: the photo or video you send to 911 can now be sent from 911 to the emergency responder being dispatched to help you.
It’s all a reaction to our greater use (80% of 911 calls now come from a cell phone) of mobile devices.
And yes, they have a yearly summer 9-1-1 Festival.
As this technology evolves, it is cool to think that Haleyville AL, that small town in Alabama was at the forefront of this life saving technology.