The nation's first 911 emergency call was placed by Alabama Senator Rankin Fite on this day in history, Feb. 16, 1968.
The landmark moment came four years after the shocking unreported brutal murder of a New York City woman which emphasized to many Americans the need for a standard and easy-to-use system to call for emergency assistance. A shocking 38 people heard the woman calling for help yet none at the time had the number for emergency services and were unable to reach help for her in time.
While almost everyone recognizes 9-1-1 as the catch-all number for emergencies nationwide, only half of Americans had access to 9-1-1 for emergencies as recently as 1987. Today almost everyone (approximately 96%) in the nation now has access, and with most Americans carrying a cell phone it’s always within reach.
While the United States was not the first to have a standard emergency number, (London establishes 999 in 1937) now most nations around the globe have a standard emergency number.