50 years in the making: '911, what's your emergency?'

In the 50 years since its inception, 911 emergency response has evolved into an advanced framework helping others


By Tim Nowak, FireRescue1 Contributor

This single question shaped the meaning behind these three dialed numbers, 911.

Up until 50 years ago, dialing 911 wasn’t an option to call for help. Even today, its convenience only reaches 96 percent of Americans. [1]

Dialing 911 first occurred on Feb. 16, 1968, in Haleyville, AL, by then Senator Rankin Fite. [1] Prior attempts to create a nationally-accepted emergency number originated in 1957, but didn’t gain full support until the FCC and AT&T reserved the digits 911 for emergency use in 1968. [2]

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