Pretoria Image: 9 1 1

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Blue Bulls
Image by Neil. Moralee

9-1-1 is the emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), one of eight N11 codes. The use of this number is for emergency circumstances only, and to use it for any other purpose (including non-emergency situations[citation needed] and prank calls) can be a crime.

In the earliest days of telephone technology, prior to the development of the rotary dial telephone, all telephone calls were operator-assisted. To place a call, the caller was required to pick up the telephone receiver and wait for the telephone operator to answer, they would then ask to be connected to the number they wished to call, the operator would make the required connection manually, by means of a switchboard. In an emergency, the caller might simply say "Get me the police", "I want to report a fire", or "I need an ambulance/doctor". Until the dial tone telephone came into widespread use in the 1950s, one could not place calls without operator assistance.
"Emergency 911" displayed on the side of an Upper Dublin Township police vehicle, indicating that 9-1-1 is the number to dial in the event of an emergency.

The first known experiment with a national emergency telephone number occurred in the United Kingdom in 1937, using the number 999. The first city in North America to use a central emergency number (in 1959) was the Canadian city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, which instituted the change at the urging of Stephen Juba, mayor of Winnipeg at the time. Winnipeg initially used 999 as the emergency number, but switched numbers when 9-1-1 was proposed by the United States. In the United States, the push for the development of a nationwide American emergency telephone number came in 1957 when the National Association of Fire Chiefs recommended that a single number be used for reporting fires. In 1967, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended the creation of a single number that could be used nationwide for reporting emergencies. The burden then fell on the Federal Communications Commission, which then met with AT&T in November, 1967 in order to come up with a solution.

In 1968, a solution was agreed upon. AT&T chose to implement the concept, but with its unique emergency number, 9-1-1, which was brief, easy to remember, dialed easily, and worked well with the phone systems in place at the time.

Just 35 days after AT&T’s announcement, on February 16, 1968, the first-ever 9-1-1 call was placed by Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite, from Haleyville City Hall, to U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill, at the city’s police station. Bevill reportedly answered the phone with "Hello". At the City Hall with Fite was Haleyville mayor James Whitt; at the police station with Bevill were Gallagher and Alabama Public Service Commission director Eugene "Bull" Connor. Fitzgerald was at the ATC central office serving Haleyville, and actually observed the call pass through the switching gear as the mechanical equipment clunked out "9-1-1". The phone used to answer the first 9-1-1 call, a bright red model, is now in a museum in Haleyville, while a duplicate phone is still in use at the police station.
Public notice on highway

In 1968, 9-1-1 became the national emergency number for the United States. Calling this single number provided a caller access to police, fire and ambulance services, through what would become known as a common Public-safety answering point (PSAP). The number itself, however, did not become widely known until the 1970s, and many municipalities did not have 9-1-1 service until well into the 1980s. Conversion to 9-1-1 in Canada began in 1972 and now virtually all areas, except for some rural areas, are using 9-1-1. Each year, Canadians make 12 million calls to 9-1-1.

On September 15, 2010, AT&T announced that State of Tennessee has approved a service to support a Text to 9-1-1 trial statewide, where AT&T would be able to allow its users to send text messages to 9-1-1 Public-safety answering points

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About Alan

My ethos is espoused in the words of Nelson Mandela: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society. If need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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