London led the world in using a single phone number for all emergency calls when the first 999 call was made in July 1937. However, it would take more than 30 more years for the concept to come to the United States.

Just Dial 911

The first 911 call in the United States came on Feb. 16, 1968, when Alabama State Representative Rankin Fite called the Haleyville, Alabama police station from City Hall. This breakthrough followed a recommendation from President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. The commission counseled police departments to establish a single number for all of their emergency calls and suggested that a nationwide number be adopted. In 1967, a meeting of the Federal Communications Commission and the American Telephone and Telegraph Company led to 911 being designated as the emergency number. The number was chosen for its short, easy-to-remember quality, along with the fact that it had not already been reserved for area codes or other uses.