Did you know?
Courtesy of Allen Wiggenton:
Back in 1995, I took a job with Pickens County to do what at the time seemed an impossible task. Commissioner Don Mullinax had made the giant step of progress forward and was starting a 911 Center. Before it opened to get help from Public Safety in Pickens County you had to dial three different places and hope someone was available to answer the call. No recordings. No pre-arrival EMS instructions. Just a person on the other line and when they left to respond to the call, there was generally no one left to answer the next call.
In the humble beginnings we operated with folding tables, old remote base station radios and a PBX phone system. We actually didn’t use the radios except to listen. We took the calls and then the agencies sent people out themselves when we told them the information. Calls were taken and recorded on tapes. We had no computers and everything was logged by hand. Eventually we upgraded to headsets and small console radios and started to coordinate the responses. I remember vividly when Gaylon Mathews and myself went to a class to teach others how to use the pre-arrival EMS instruction cards to give life saving instructions to callers before the ambulance arrived. More than one person was talked through CPR by a person sitting the basement of the Courthouse.
Over time these humble beginnings were turned into the modern 911 Center we have today. Chairman Jones and the Board of Commissioners have made it a priority to keep our 911 center on par with the best in the State. While this is expensive, it’s necessary. 911 Centers are truly the first line of Public Safety in a community and without them, the job in the field is disorganized and can get someone hurt. If you are in Pickens County, be proud of the investment made in these facilities.
I want to thank our Communications Officers in the 911 Center for the job they do. No one can appreciate the stress and frustration they experience without having sat in that chair. They hear all the trauma and never get to see the end result. Having been in the chair and then in the field, I can say that sometimes the finality of seeing the scene cleared can be a relief. 911 Communications Officers just hear about it. They hear the pain in the voice of the parent with a sick child and the fear in the voice of the victim of domestic violence. I hope they all know that they can take pride in being a true voice of hope for so many in this community and across the country.
Happy National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week!
(Copied from Allen Wiggintin’s Facebook post 4-14-17)
Comment from Mark Carden:
You might be interested in knowing that before all that happened everyone dialed 0 on their land lines and Telephone Operators would then contact police/fire etc. to be sent and stay on the line with people that needed help. Telephone Company Operators were once the life line of all communities.
I was part of Southern Bell that developed the 911 systems in the 1960’s that became what they are today in Georgia. Bob Gallagher, President of the Alabama Telephone, was annoyed that the independent phone industry had not been consulted. Gallagher decided to beat AT&T to the punch line and Fitzgerald examined all twenty-seven Alabama exchanges choosing the Haleyville location, and then engineered the new circuitry and made the modifications needed for the existing equipment. Fitzgerald and his team worked around the clock to install the first 911 emergency system in under one week. The team worked their regular day jobs in Fayette, traveling each night to Haleyville to do the 911 work during off-peak hours. The work was completed on February 16, 1968, at exactly 2 p.m. celebrated with a team cheer of “Bingo!”have the first 911 emergency service built in Haleyville, Alabama.
The very first American 911 call was placed on February 16, 1968 in Haleyville, Alabama made by Alabama Speaker of the House, Rankin Fite and answered by Congressman Tom Bevill.