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50 Years Ago: Huntington, Indiana Becomes First American City to Use 911

Before 911, you would have had to dial “0” for the operator when you needed help and face possible busy signals.

HUNTINGTON, Ind--50 years ago today, Huntington, Indiana, became the first American city to make and receive 911 calls. Congressman J. Edward Roush, a key proponent of the new emergency service, placed the first call from Indiana Bell Telephone Company to Fredric Dutt, a policeman at Huntington Police Department on March 1, 1968.
 
Before 911, you would have had to dial “0” for the operator when you needed help and face possible busy signals. Or you’d have to find the number to the nearest fire or police station, which could be frustrating in an emergency where every second counts.
 
The FCC turned to AT&T in 1967 to solve the problem since the company had a proven history of serving public safety. AT&T identified a unique number that would be short and simple that those in need would be able to call 24 hours a day.
 
In Jan. 1968, the AT&T-owned Bell System announced the adoption of 911 as a nationwide emergency telephone number.
 
Huntington, Indiana made the first 911 call on the AT&T-owned Bell System March 1, 1968.

Huntington residents quickly began using the service. During its first week, 13 calls were made to 911 , most of which reported fires. 

 

(PHOTO: CellPhone_Thinkstock_LDProd)

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