The first first responders are here for you

9-1-1 turns 50 and Waldo County Regional Communications Center is celebrating

Posted:  Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 7:30pm

On February 16, 1968, at 2 p.m., Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite made the first 9-1-1 call from the Haleyville City Hall to the local police department.  From that small beginning, 9-1-1 technology has become more sophisticated in response to consumer expectations.  Each advancement has improved our nation’s ability to get better, more reliable information to first responders so they can do their jobs of saving lives and property.  Waldo County didn’t get 9-1-1 until August of 2001.

Those who answer 9-1-1 calls are the “first first-responders” who provide life-saving instructions to the caller and get help to them as quickly as possible. 

We are proud of the advancements to the 9-1-1 system, GPS location on cell phones and mapping plays a huge part in getting help to those in emergency situations. We are constantly updating our systems and learning new technology, coming soon will be the ability to text 9-1-1, though some of us are not looking forward to the possibility of photos and videos!

Did you know that even an uncharged/out of service old cell phone can dial 9-1-1?

This is good in an emergency, but not so good if you give your old cell to your kids to play with (we all do). Please remove the batteries before they play!

How can the public help us get assistance to them faster? Stay on the line, even if it is an accidental call, the dispatcher will check the location and make sure their maps are getting the correct information. Know your location, look for box numbers or landmarks around you. 

Answer the dispatcher’s questions, it seems like they are taking a long time and delaying response, but our protocols really work well and the total call time should be less than 2 minutes, and that includes dispatching responders. 

Our 9-1-1 center is celebrating the birthday with treats and a bulletin board displaying pictures of the historic event.  We hope you enjoy the day and think of the security the 9-1-1 system affords us.  We are here for you!


Owen Smith is director of the Waldo County Regional Communications Center