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National Emergency Number Association (NENA) Recognizes the 40th Anniversary of the First 9-1-1 Call

ARLINGTON, VA. -- February 16, 2008 will mark the 40th Anniversary of the first ever 9-1-1 call. The initial, historic call was placed in Haleyville, AL City Hall by Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite to U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill at the city's police station.

"To see the progress we have made in the past four decades is truly remarkable," said NENA President, Jason Barbour, ENP. "We have overcome many challenges over the years to create the world's best emergency communications system. 9-1-1 is a brand that the American people know they can rely on in times of crisis, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That is testament to the spirit of innovation and collaboration amongst the many groups that started in Haleyville and continues through today."

In 1967, the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended the creation of a single, universal number that could be used from coast-to-coast to report emergencies. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was then charged with spearheading this bold initiative. In turn, the FCC met with AT&T in November of that year in order to devise a solution. In the first days of 1968, AT&T chose a brief, easy to remember, and simple to dial number: 9-1-1. In Alabama, then president of the independent Alabama Telephone Co. (ATC), Bob Gallagher, read a report of the AT&T 9-1-1 announcement in the Wall Street Journal. Gallagher's entrepreneurial and competitive nature moved him to be the first to implement the 9-1-1 service. An ATC employee, Robert Fitzgerald, recommended Haleyville as the launch site. Gallagher later issued a press release announcing that the 9-1-1 service would go live in Haleyville on February 16, 1968. Circuitry work and installation were both quickly completed, and just 35 days after AT&T's announcement, the first-ever 9-1-1 call was placed.

"It's on days like these that I couldn't be more proud to be an Alabamian and a 9-1-1 professional," said Alabama NENA President, Johnny Hart, ENP, of Arab, AL. "Haleyville will always be known as 'Where 9-1-1 Began,' and it's an honor and distinction I wear proudly."

"With the promise of a Next Generation 9-1-1 system on the horizon, it's important to reflect on where we've been. The 40th Anniversary of 9-1-1 is a perfect opportunity to do that," said Barbour. "We can learn a lot from the past, and those valuable lessons learned will guide us well moving into the next four decades and beyond."

Both National NENA and the Alabama Chapter will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of 9-1-1 at upcoming events: first in March at NENA's 9-1-1 Goes to Washington event, then at the Alabama quarterly meeting in April, and finally at the 2008 NENA Annual 9-1-1 Conference and Trade Show in Tampa Bay, FL in June.

Happy Birthday 9-1-1.

About the National Emergency Number Association
NENA is The Voice of 9-1-1™. NENA promotes implementation and awareness of 9-1-1 as North America's universal emergency number. NENA is the leading professional non-profit organization dedicated solely to 9-1-1 emergency communications issues. NENA serves its nearly 7,000 members in 48 chapters across the U.S., Canada and Mexico through policy advocacy, establishment of technical and operational standards, certification programs and a broad spectrum of educational offerings. Find out more at

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