120: Emergency Telephone Numbers


Today is the 78th anniversary of the debut of the first emergency telephone number.
Here are some things you might not know about the history of emergency telephone numbers.
First, the service was originally offered in the greater London area of Great Britain. The number, 999, was selected because it is easy to remember and could be dialed on a rotary phone by a person who was visually impaired.
Second, 911 service in North America didn’t begin in earnest until 1968 and some areas didn’t have the device until the 1980s.
Third, mobile phones have made life difficult for emergency phone dispatchers. Finding a precise location is more difficult than with a landline and pocket-dialing of the emergency number has become common.
Our question: what was the first city in North America to have an emergency phone number?
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