911 Has Been Emergency Number for Forty Years The nation's first 911 call was made 40 years ago this weekend. In 1968, the nation's largest phone carrier, AT&T, announced it was going to create an easy-to-remember national emergency number that people could call from anyplace in the country. Public Safety officials had been pushing for such a number for several years. But the Alabama Telephone company, one of the many small, independent carriers operating in the shadows of AT&T, managed to beat the phone giant to the finish line. They chose Haleyville, Ala., as the site for the project and completed their work in less than a week. When they were finished, any locals who dialed 911 would reach a bright red phone in the police station. Alabama's Speaker of the House christened the new system on February 16 with the nation's first ceremonial 911 call.