Every year, many people living in the United States who are in danger call a number they can depend on: 911.
This week, 911 is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The Commonwealth Telephone Company was the first Virginia company to install the service, which went live on December 2, 1968, according to a release.
Prince William residents who had certain telephone exchanges — 221, 361, 368, 491, 494, 594, 670 and 875 — could use the number.
At that time, 911 calls were sent to the Prince William County Central Fire Alarm Office, which was located in the “town of Manassas,” where one person answered the phone and served as radio dispatcher.
Many changes have been made during the past 50 years.
To meet the county’s growing population, the number of personnel who answer calls and and dispatch emergency services has grown to more than 100.
The system has also kept up with technological advances through the creation of various apps and services, including Text-to-911 and Next Generation 911 — a service that allows the caller, the center and emergency responders to share information digitally.
“Protecting life and property and ensuring safety are important responsibilities of local government. The ability of all persons to summon help quickly in an emergency is essential to the community’s well-being,” said Police Captain Alfred Miller, director of the County’s Office of Public Safety Communications. “The 911 emergency phone system and consolidated call-taking and dispatching increases public confidence and helps provide efficient emergency services with greater capabilities and cost savings to the public.”
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