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     The History of 911 Systems

              America's First 911

              Haleyville, Alabama

                                   February 16, 1968

Although Great Britain was the first country to establish a universal emergency telephone number, America's first 911 system was established in a small town of Haleyville, Alabama in 1968.


Since 1937 any individual in the United Kingdom has been able to dial "999" and have his or her request for assistance from police, fire or ambulance handled quickly and efficiently directed to the proper agency.  Belgium has adopted "900" as its uniform emergency number.  Denmark uses "000", Sweden "80 000" and Japan "119".


In November of 1967, the FCC met with AT&T officials to determine a national emergency number that could be implemented quickly.  By early the next year AT&T announced that they had decided on 9-1-1 as the best combination for the emergency number.  It was easy to remember and had never been used as an area or service code.  Telephone company equipment could be easily adjusted to accept the number.


After reading in the Wall Street Journal that the FCC had set aside this new emergency number, Bob Gallagher the president of the Alabama Telephone Company set out to establish the system in Haleyville, Alabama.  On February 16, 1968 Alabama State Senator Rankin Fite made the first 911 call from Haleyville Mayor James Whitt's office.  It was answered in the Haleyville police department by US Representative Tom Bevill and as they say "the rest is history".


In Erie County, Union City was the first community to go on line with 911, in 1978.  West Erie County residents within the 774 exchange began using 911 in 1980.  These two systems were basic systems with no identifiers to show the phone number or address of the caller.  Millcreek installed a somewhat more elaborate system in 1990, which showed the caller's phone number.  The dispatchers still had to ask the caller's address and other pertinent information.


Erie County installed the present enhanced 911 system in 1993 and went on line on May the 6th.  Enhanced 911 displays the phone number you are calling from, the name of the phone subscriber, and the address.  There is also a secondary screen which can display special guidelines that  may be needed.


In Erie County we answer all the 911 calls at the Erie County 911 Center located in the City of Erie.
Our call takers will answer the call,  determine if there is an actual emergency and confirm your caller information.  The call taker will then conference your call with the dispatch center that covers the area where emergency help is needed.  This exchange normally takes approximately 30 seconds.  The 911 call taker never hangs up until he/she is sure that the connection is made and there is conversation with the dispatch center.


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