History of 9-1-1 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. Use of different numbers for each type of emergency was determined to be contrary to the purpose of a single, universal number. As a result of the immense interest in this issue, the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders turned to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a solution.

In November 1967, the FCC met with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) to find a means of establishing a universal emergency number that could be implemented quickly. In 1968, AT&T announced that it would establish the digits 9-1-1 (nine-one-one) as the emergency code throughout the United States.

Congress backed AT&T’s proposal and passed legislation allowing use of only the numbers 9-1-1 when creating a single emergency calling service, thus making 9-1-1 a standard emergency number nationwide.

On February 16, 1968, Senator Rankin Fite completed the first 9-1-1 call made in the United States in Haleyville, Alabama.

History of 9-1-1 in Macon County

During a meeting of the Rural Health Coalition, the topic of rapid accessibility to health care for citizens in Macon County was discussed. A subcommittee in Macon County was formed to determine how to accomplish this. The subcommittee soon determined that an “Enhanced 9-1-1” emergency telephone system was the answer.

The problem, as the committee would soon discover, was funding. This issue plagued most rural counties in Missouri, and prohibited 9-1-1 systems from being implemented. The committee would soon become the “9-1-1 Committee" and although their work was cut out for them, they would not give up.

Additional members of the community and emergency service providers were invited to join this committee to make a fully enhanced 9-1-1 service in Macon County a reality.

Committee members toured many other dispatch centers, and met with “experts” in 9-1-1. Funding continued to be the only major drawback. As other rural counties were also struggling with the funding issue, our committee was steered to Missouri’s General Assembly to propose a sales tax form of funding for 9-1-1 systems. Warren County Missouri would also propose this type of funding.

With the work of our committee, Macon County Commission, and Warren County the General Assembly passed into law a means of using sales tax to fund a 9-1-1 system.

Voters in Macon County overwhelmingly approved the sales tax issue to fund a 9-1-1 system.

During the implementation phase, the Macon County Commission passed the “Uniform Addressing Ordinance” which requires everyone in Macon County use a “location” style of address. The entire county would need to be addressed or readdressed to meet this requirement. As with any “enhanced” 9-1-1 system, the address must reflect an exact location.

Address work began in 1992, and was completed shortly before our system went on line in August of 1994.

Macon County Enhanced 9-1-1 currently locates all traditional wire line phone callers, most wireless (cellular), and Voice Over IP (VOIP) callers using the latest technology available. Most cell phone users are also able to "text to 911" allowing callers that cannot speak for whatever reason to report emergencies to the 911 dispatchers in Macon County.

History of 9-1-1 in Knox County

In the mid 90's the Director for Macon County's 911 system attended multiple meetings in Knox County to assist in planning a system for them. As with most small rural counties, funding was the major issue, and even with the passage of a Missouri statute that allowed the use of sales tax to fund a system, the group looking to set up a system in Knox County found that the various methods to fund a 911 system always fell way short for them.

During that same time period, the 911 community was working closely with Missouri's General Assembly on a statewide funding mechanism for wireless 911. The General Assembly was clear that consolidation needed to occur before they would consider any additional funding for 911 in Missouri. Consolidation could be at the local level in counties that had multiple 911 answering points, or could be multiple counties joining together to have one answering point/dispatch center, or it could be one county's established system contracting with another county or counties to provide emergency telephone and dispatching services.

After Macon County 911 installed a new Next Generation(NG911)upgradable system, the board of directors reached out to Knox County, offering to provide enhanced 911 telephone and dispatching services. The Knox County Commission and Macon County 911 board entered into a contract for Macon County 911 to provide enhanced 911 emergency telephone and dispatching services for Knox County, which went live in August of 2014. In addition to providing a much needed service for the citizens of Knox County, it also provides for the type of consolidation that the General Assembly was requiring in Missouri.

The system now locates all traditional wire line phone callers and most wireless (Cellular) and Voice Over IP (VOIP) callers using the latest technology available and allows cell phone users in Knox County to "text to 911" also.