Haleyville -- The First 911

The first implementation of 911 was in Haleyville (Ala.) in January 1968. The town had a population of about 4,500 population back then, and was serviced by the Alabama Telephone Company.

Congress had declared that 911 should be the national emergency number just weeks before. Bob Gallagher, president of ATC, decided to beat AT&T's implementation of 911 among the Bell Telephone companies, and worked with Robert Fitzgerald, inside plant manager for ATC, to pick Haleyville as the location for their "first ever" installation. The 911 telephone was placed at the police department--it was actually a red telephone. There was no ANI/ALI service with this first installation.

The first 911 call from Haleyville was made by Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite on Feb. 16, 1968 to Tom Bevill, a U.S. Representative. Later, the two said they exchanged greetings, hung up and, "had coffee and doughnuts."

The technology of 911 has changed over time, but Haleyville's call proved the concept worked. updated. Visit our 911 History page for a full account of the first 911 call.

Of course, 911 wasn't the first 3-digit emergency number--that honor goes to Britain's 999 number, which was formally inaugurated on July 8, 1937 at 4:20 a.m. when John Stanley Beard of 33 Elsworthy Road, Hampstead, London discovered a burglar outside his house. While Mrs. Beard dialed 999, her husband pursued the suspect. Police arrived within five minutes and captured Thomas Duffy. New Zealand's 111 emergency number debuted in September, 1958.