History of 911
The three-digit telephone number "9-1-1" has been designated as the "Universal Emergency Number," for citizens throughout the United States to request emergency assistance. It is intended as a nationwide telephone number and gives the public fast and easy access to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
In the United States, the first catalyst for a nationwide emergency telephone number was in 1957, when the National Association of Fire Chiefs recommended use of a single number for reporting fires.
In 1967, the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended that a "single number should be established" nationwide for reporting emergency situations. The use of different telephone numbers for each type of emergency was determined to be contrary to the purpose of a single, universal number.
On February 16, 1968, Senator Rankin Fite completed the first 9-1-1 call made in the United States in Haleyville, Alabama. The serving telephone company was then Alabama Telephone Company. This Haleyville 9-1-1 system is still in operation today.
On February 22, 1968, Nome, Alaska implemented 9-1-1 service.
March 1973 – The Federal Government issued a bulletin recognizing the benefits of 9-1- 1, encouraged nationwide adoption of 9-1-1 and placed responsibility for its development with local government.
June 1981 – The Oregon Legislature calls for implementation of 9-1-1 services statewide by December 31, 1991. The purpose was to provide all Oregonians with a single, easy-to-remember number to call for emergency services. The measure instituted a 3 percent telephone excise tax to help offset the costs of compliance by telephone companies and local governments. The funds were disbursed quarterly on a per-capita basis from a dedicated Emergency Communications Account to cities and counties. Local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) user groups assumed responsibility for allocating the funds for the planning, installation, operation and improvement of local 9-1-1 systems. At the time, there were over 280 PSAPs in Oregon with only a few providing basic 9-1-1 services and none providing enhanced services.
January 1991 – The state/local partnership is a success; Oregon became the sixth state in the country to have border to border 9-1-1 services. During this ten-year period, local PSAP user groups worked to consolidate the call taking and dispatch functions. The number of communication centers declined from 293 to just 91 statewide. Local governments continue to explore all options to improve efficiency without sacrificing public safety.
June 1991 – The Legislature mandates Enhanced 9-1-1 in all of Oregon by the year 2000. An Enhanced 9-1-1 system provides the address (location) and phone number of the telephone making the emergency call for help as well as the responsible police, fire and medical response agency for that location. All Primary PSAPs became Enhanced Capable and completed this mandate by December 31, 1999. The Legislature also increased the rate of taxation from 3 percent to 5 percent. The additional 2 percent was earmarked by the state to pay for state-wide Enhancement of existing 9-1-1 systems and the establishment of a Telecommunicator standards and certification program.
July 1993 – Oregon became the first state in the nation to establish minimum Telecommunicator and Emergency Medical Dispatcher standards and certification requirements with annual maintenance requirements through a program managed by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.
June 1995 – The Oregon Legislature changed the structure of the tax from 5 percent of the local access bill to a flat rate of 75 cents on any retail subscriber who has telecommunication services capable of accessing 9-1-1 services. Cellular (wireless telephone) service was developing rapidly with increasing numbers of 9-1-1 calls being placed on wireless phones. Subsequently, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules requiring wireless companies to be able to provide the location of a wireless 9-1-1 call by October of 2001 (The Phase II Wireless mandate).
Between 1991 to 2009, the number of communication centers (Primary and Secondary PSAPs) in the state further declined from 91 to 72. Currently, the number of Primary 9-1-1 PSAPs has declined to 50 with several Primary and Secondary PSAPs currently studying how best to improve efficiency and effectiveness with consolidation as an option.