9-1-1, born in Huntington, turns 50 years old

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) Huntington became the first American city served by the AT&T-owned Bell System to receive 911 50 years ago, Thursday.

It was March 1, 1968, when Congressman J. Edward Roush placed the first call from Indiana Bell Telephone Company to Huntington Police Officer Fredric Dutt with the 911 code. Afterward, Huntington residents began using the service, including 13 calls for emergency service in the first week.

To mark the anniversary, officials including Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters, Huntington County Sherriff Terry Stoffel, Huntington County Dispatch Director Melissa Taylor and AT&T Indiana President Bill Soards honored Rep. Roush with a proclamation marking the day Congressman J. Edward Roush Day. Members from the Roush family were in attendance at the event at Huntington Public Safety Dispatch.

Before 911, residents in need of emergency service had to dial “0” for the operator or find the number to the nearest fire or police station.

To combat the issue and expedite the process, the Federal Communications Commission turned to AT&T in 1967 to create a unique number that would be short and simple that those in need would be able to call 24 hours a day. In January 1968, the AT&T-owned Bell System announced the adoption of 911 as a nationwide emergency telephone number.

The first call on the new 911 system was completed in Haleyville, Alabama February 16, 1968, and less than two weeks later, the first 911 call on the AT&T-owned Bell System was made in Huntington.

Today, 911 is an essentially part of emergency services, and 911 dispatchers handle thousands of calls each year. The event was put on by Kelly Mitchell, Treasurer of State