AT&T's Announcement of Emergency Number

In a story on page 16 of the Friday, Jan. 12, 1968 edition of the Wall Street Journal, reporter Philip Hawkins wrote about AT&T's plan to introduce a single emergency number among its affiliated Bell telephone companies. AT&T held a press conference on that same day to announce their selection of 911 as the nation-wide emergency number. The Wall Street Journal ran a second story the following Monday, Jan. 15 , that reported on the specifics of AT&T's plan.

Here is the text of the Jan. 12, 1968 Wall Street Journal story:

AT&T to Introduce
Emergency Number
Usable Across U.S.

Plan Will Be Unveiled Today
Using Regional Switchboards
To Speed Calls, Sources Say

By Philip Hawkins
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK--A single telephone number across the U.S. for dialing various emergency services will be unveiled today by American Telephone & Telegraph Co., source said.

A spokesman for AT&T said he could neither confirm nor deny the report.

The system is expected to go a long way toward reducing the time it takes to summon aid in numerous types of emergencies. Currently, emergency services are on a strictly local basis, with each service normally having its separate phone number

Sources aid the new method will use regional switchboards to tie in police department, fire departments, hospitals, ambulance services, and all other Federal and local governmental agencies or private emergency groups wishing to subscribe. AT&T will determine the boundaries of the different regions, they said.

Sources said the system will work in the following way: A person needing an ambulance, for example, will dial the standard phone number, regardless of what part of the country he is in, and tell the operator in the emergency center his location and the type of service needed. The operator then connects the caller into the phone of the ambulance service nearest his location.

AT&T will bill the emergency services, but it isn't known what basis it will use to compute its charges, the sources said. Presumably, though, the costs will be related to volume of calls received, they speculated.

Some large metropolitan areas in the U.S. have attempted to streamline their emergency telephone procedures, although most limited their efforts to the individual service. For instance, callers from anywhere in New York City can reach police by dialing a single number, but can't reach any other type of emergency organization on that number.

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