The 9-1-1 reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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9-1-1

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9-1-1 or nine-one-one or the universal emergency telephone number is the emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). It is one of eight N11 codes.

It was set up in 1968 in the United States (the first call was made from Haleyville, Alabama), but was not applicable to the whole country until the early 1980s.

In over 99% of locations in the United States and Canada, dialing "911" from any telephone will link the caller to an emergency dispatch center which can send emergency responders to the caller's location in an emergency. In some areas enhanced 911 is available, which automatically gives dispatch the caller's location, if available.

When the 9-1-1 system was originally introduced, it was advertised as the "nine-eleven" service. This was changed when some panicked individuals tried to find the "eleven" key on their telephones (this may seem bizarre and amusing, but it is important to remember that in emergency situations people can easily become extremely confused and irrational). Therefore, all references to the telephone number 9-1-1 are now always made as nine-one-one — never as nine-eleven (See September 11, 2001 attacks).

Dialing 911 from a mobile phone will often reach the state police or highway patrol, instead of the local 911 office. The caller will have to describe his or her exact location so that the state police can transfer the call to the correct local emergency services. It is therefore more efficient to store into the mobile phone the direct phone number to the local police or other emergency services.

In the U.S., FCC rules require every telephone that can physically access the network to be able to dial 911, regardless of any reason that normal service may have been disconnected (including non-payment). On wired (land line) phones, this usually is accomplished by a "soft" dial tone, which sounds normal, but will only allow emergency calls. Often, an unused and unpublished phone number will be issued to the line so that it will work properly.

FCC rules also now require new mobile phones to provide their latitude and longitude to emergency operators in the event of a 911 call. Carriers may choose whether to implement this via GPS chipss in each phone, or via triangulation between cell towers. In addition, the rules require carriers to connect 911 calls from any mobile phone, regardless of whether that phone is currently active.

If 911 is dialed from a commercial VoIP service, depending on how the provider handles such calls, the call may not go anywhere at all, or it may go to a non-emergency number at the public safety answering point associated with the billing or service address of the caller. Because a VoIP adapter can be plugged into any broadband internet connection, the caller could actually be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home, yet if the call goes to an answering point at all, it would be the one associated with the caller's address and not the actual location. It may never be possible to accurately pinpoint the exact location of a VoIP user, so users should be aware of this limitation and make other arrangements for summoning assistance in an emergency. The FCC is currently addressing this issue, and is expected to rule that 911 protocols established for wired and wireless services must also be followed for VoIP.

The number's close association with emergency situations has led to "911" being used as shorthand for "emergency" in text messages sent to pagers and mobile phones. Additionally, 911 is used so pervasively in US media that other countries have sometimes had difficulty in educating children not to dial 911 for help. For example, the UK number is 9-9-9, in most of Europe and all GSM systems the number is 1-1-2, the Australian number is 0-0-0, and the Japanese numbers are 1-1-0 for the police and 1-1-9 for other emergencies. In New Zealand, although 1-1-1 is the official emergency number, dialling 911 also connects to the emergency operator. Note that many countries do not run one central emergency dispatch service but have separate numbers for police, fire and ambulance services.

9-1-1 Emergency Telephone Number Day

9-1-1 Emergency Telephone Number Day was proclaimed, by President Reagan in 1987, to occur on the 11th day of September, the ninth month, of that year. The proclamation was made to promote the North American universal emergency telephone number 9-1-1.

Since then has been celebrated by many United States communities as "9-1-1 emergency number day" or simply "911 day". The promotional effort is often led by firefighters and the police.

See also: enhanced 911

External links

N11 codes
2-1-1 | 3-1-1 | 4-1-1 | 5-1-1 | 6-1-1 | 7-1-1 | 8-1-1 | 9-1-1