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February 14, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years of 9-1-1 .

Celebrating 50 Years of 9-1-1


Dr. Robert Roche

9-1-1 is deeply woven into the fabric of our daily lives.

Children as young as two know to dial 9-1-1 from cellphones for help in emergencies.

So it may come as a surprise that Americans didn’t always have this lifeline.

This week, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first call to 9-1-1, placed in Haleyville, Alabama on February 16, 1968.

We’ve come a long way since then.

In 1968, gas was 38 cents per gallon, a postage stamp cost five cents, and 9-1-1 was in its infancy following the recommendation of a commission under President Lyndon Johnson to establish a national emergency number to create “a safer and more just society.”

50 years after that single call from Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite to Haleyville’s Police Station, an estimated 240 million 9-1-1 calls are placed by Americans each year. In 2017, that included 96,000 calls delivered to Houston’s 9-1-1 center during the initial stage of Hurricane Harvey.

And we know that Americans rely on wireless in times of emergency, with more than 70% of 9-1-1 calls in America now from mobile devices. Last year, 2.5 million wireless calls were made to 9-1-1 call centers in Alabama alone.

So on this landmark anniversary, we recognize the tireless work of our nation’s public safety professionals, who are there answering and responding to those calls around the clock. The wireless industry is proud to support those efforts every single day by connecting Americans when it matters most.

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