9-1-1 is a three digit telephone number that has been set aside as a telephone number to be used in the event of an emergency to call police, fire, or emergency medical help. In some European countries, a universal number has been in use for many years. Great Britain has used the digits 999 since 1930, Belgium used 900, Denmark used 000, Russia uses 03 and Sweden uses 9000.
The concept of the three digit emergency number in the United States is the result of the urging of some concerned citizens and the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement in 1967 that a single telephone number should be established nationwide for reporting emergency situations. On January 12, 1968, American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) designated the digits 9-1-1 to be used throughout the country as the dedicated emergency telephone number.
During the early 1970’s, small and medium sized cities such as College Station, Galveston, Alice and Odessa were the first to implement 9-1-1 emergency systems in Texas. By the end of the decade, approximately 20 such systems were in operation - the largest in San Antonio which included most of Bexar County. The combined systems reached approximately 20 percent of the state’s population.
The acceleration in planning and development of 9-1-1 has come about for two reasons:
Technological improvements have allowed the development of more sophisticated and effective systems; and
State legislation has been enacted to provide an optional method for organizing and funding 9-1-1 systems on a countywide basis.