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History of 911

The idea of being able to dial a single (universal) number to report emergencies was first utilized in Great Britain. July 8 1937 Britain implemented its 999 emergency telephone system serving police, fire and EMS. The first call was received at 4:20 a.m. when the wife of John Stanley Beard (33 Elsworthy Rd., Hampstead, London) dialed 999 to report a burglar outside her home.

During World War II, American military personnel were introduced to this system while stationed in England. In the early 1950’s, a universal police and fire number was used at all U.S. Military installations worldwide. The idea of a three-digit emergency number in the United States was introduced to Congress and committees were formed to decide how to make the concept a reality.

emergency_dial_diskThe telephone industry decided on the digits “9-1-1″. ‘Basic 9-1-1′ could only provide a voice connection to an emergency response agency. The emergency responders did not have any information other than that provided by the caller. Still, Basic 9-1-1 was a big improvement in emergency services with the number predetermined for an emergency response agency. The first 9-1-1 call was placed on February 16, 1968 in Haleyville, Alabama.

Later, Enhanced 9-1-1′ provided the caller’s location information and telephone number via special computers and display screens. Enhanced 9-1-1 also provides features for selective routing and selective transfer of 9-1-1 calls to multiple emergency response jurisdictions.