9-1-1 Information

When do I use 9-1-1? 

9-1-1 is a reporting number.  Call 911 to report an incident which you believe requires the response or intervention of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service.  The professionals answering the 9-1-1 call will determine which agencies or units should respond and how quickly they need to reach the scene of the incident.  Call 911 when:

    • a person is hurt or injured.
    • a crime has been or is being committed.
    • a motor vehicle accident occurs.
    • any situation involving a fire.

How does enhanced 9-1-1 work?

Special computers and monitors display the location and phone number where the 9-1-1 call originated.  A typical 9-1-1 display will give the phone number of the caller, the address and apartment or lot number, and the name of the telephone service subscriber.

How does a 9-1-1 call get to the right place?

Telephone computers are set up to identify the location where the 9-1-1 originated and automatically route it to the correct 9-1-1 center for that geographic location.

Can I use my cellular phone to call 9-1-1?

 Cellular phones can call 9-1-1 as a free call.  Caller location, phone number and wireless provider, and cellular tower information will be displayed.  If the wireless caller has a poor signal the location may not be displayed.

How did 9-1-1 become the universal number?

9-1-1....the first telephone call was a call for help.  In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.  During his testing he spilled a bottle of acid and called out "Watson, come here, I need you."  His conversation was transmitted via the telephone to his assistant Watson in another room, and the first telephone call became a part of history.

The concept of being able to dial a single (universal) number to report emergencies was first utilized in Great Britain, back in 1937.  Citizens could dial the digits 9-9-9- and reach a central operator who would in turn dispatch police, fire, or ambulance as needed.

This idea came to the United States in 1967.  It was introduced to Congress and committees were formed to decide how to make the concept a reality.

First, the telephone companies had to find a three-digit number that was not being used anywhere in the United States or Canada as a central office exchange or an area code.  Other considerations were that it should be easy to find on the telephone dial or easilty dialed in the dark.  The telephone industry decided on the numbers 9-1-1.

The very first 9-1-1 call was placed on February 16, 1968 in Haleyville, Alabama.

The first 9-1-1 calls could only provide a voice connection.  Callers knew that a call to 9-1-1 would connect them to the right people for emergency help.  But the emergency responders did not have any information other than that provided by the caller.  Still, 9-1-1 was a big improvement in emergency services. 

Enhanced 9-1-1 provides the callers location information and telephone number via special computers and display screens.  Enhanced 9-1-1 also provides for selective routing of 9-1-1 calls to multiple jurisdictions.