Each year, approximately 240 million 9-1-1 calls are answered by the calm, reassuring, and professional voices of our Nation’s public safety communicators. These emergency dispatchers stand ready to respond to crisis, ensuring their fellow citizens receive the life-saving assistance they need. On National 9-1-1 Telecommunicators Day, we honor the invaluable contributions made by the dedicated men and women in emergency call centers throughout our great country.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first 9-1-1 call. On February 16, 1968, a red phone rang in the police station located in Haleyville, Alabama. Rankin Fite, then-Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, became the first person to place a call by dialing 9-1-1. In the decades since the first 9-1-1 call, emergency communications services have improved and expanded to better respond to accidents, disasters, public safety threats, health emergencies, and other life-threatening situations. Today, 9-1-1 services are available to roughly 97 percent of the geographic United States. Advances in technology have made this system more widespread, precise, and efficient—enabling dispatchers to provide rapid response and timely assistance when the difference between life and death can be only a matter of seconds.
During National 9-1-1 Telecommunicators Day, we recognize and thank the dedicated emergency dispatchers who provide immediate response when emergencies threaten the life, health, and property of our friends, family, and loved ones. Though we rarely see these heroes, we witness their around-the-clock devotion, and we owe them our deepest gratitude and appreciation for all that they do.