The History of the First 9-1-1 Call in America

The Federal Trade Commission along with AT&T (which held a monopoly oh phone services at the time) originally announced the plans to build the first 9-1-1 system in Huntington, Indiana. Bob Gallagher, President of the Alabama Telephone company, was annoyed that the independent phone industry had not been consulted. Gallagher decided to beat AT&T to the punchline and have the first 9-1-1 emergency service built in Haleyville, Alabama.

Gallagher consulted with Bob Fitzgerald, his state inside-plant manager. Fitzgerald let Gallagher know that he could do it. Gallagher moved quickly getting approvals from Continental telephone and the Alabama Public Service commissioner, and releasing a press release on February 9 announcing that the Alabama Telephone Company would be making history.

Fitzgerald examined all twenty-seven Alabama exchanges choosing the Haleyville location, and then engineered the new circuitry and made the modifications needed for the existing equipment. Fitzgerald and his team worked their regular day jobs in Fayette, traveling each night to Haleyville to the 9-1-1 work during off-peak hours. The very first American 9-1-1 call was placed on February 16, 1968, at 2 p.m. in Haleyville, Alabama made by Alabama Speaker of the House, Rankin Fite and answered by Congressman Tom Bevill.

First 911 Call

Happy 50th Anniversary 9-1-1!