The first U.S. universal three-digit emergency telephone call was placed in Haleyville, Alabama, on Feb. 16, 1968. According to the Erie County, Pennsylvania, Department of Public Safety, it was made by Rankin Fite, Alabama Speaker of the House. Congressman Tom Bevill answered the call at the Haleyville Police Department.
The system began when Bob Gallagher, president of the Alabama Telephone Company, read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a meeting between the FCC and AT&T officials to discuss a universal emergency number. The three-digit number would be 911. Gallagher wanted his Alabama company to be the first in U.S. history to launch this system, and he succeeded.