Chesco Commissioners celebrate 50th anniversary of 911 system

Chester County Commissioners Michelle Kichline, Terence Farrell and Kathi Cozzone with Chester County 9-1-1 Telecommunicator Lisa Gray.

When one of your priorities is public safety, you recognize the importance of the nation’s 9-1-1 system – and celebrate the fact that it has been saving lives for half a century.

Chester County Commissioners Michelle Kichline, Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell joined personnel from the county’s Department of Emergency Services in the county’s 9-1-1 Center this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the system that has been the gateway between the public and emergency help since the very first 9-1-1 call was made in Haleyville, Alabama on February 16, 1968.  The Commissioners also presented a proclamation to John Haynes, Chester County’s Deputy Director of 9-1-1 Operations at their public sunshine meeting this week, noting that “the digits 9-1-1 were selected 50 years ago because they were easily remembered, could be dialed quickly and were never authorized as an office code, area code or service code.”

Chester County introduced its 9-1-1 system in 1995.  In his remarks thanking the Commissioners for the proclamation, Haynes noted “In 1994, there were 43 different phone numbers that Chester County citizens had to remember to reach emergency services, so the idea for one number to receive emergency services in the United States is incredible.”

At its inception, 9-1-1 was designated as a local service, but the more the population began to depend on 9-1-1 services there was a need for faster, more accurate responses.

“In many communities, the 9-1-1 system is still geared to the era of copper wires and landline phones. But Chester County’s investment in public safety positions our 9-1-1 service to evolve with technology and our citizens’ use of technology,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline.

Over 240 million 9-1-1 calls were made in the US last year, with more than 160,000 of those calls made in Chester County.

“Of the 160,000 calls our 9-1-1 Center received, 75 percent of them were from mobile phones,”County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone noted.  “Chester County is one of a handful of counties in Pennsylvania – and the nation – that accepts ‘text to 9-1-1’ communication, which is vitally important when our residents find themselves in a situation where calling 9-1-1 is not an option, or is dangerous.”

Chester County residents can also ensure all important personal information is available to  9-1-1 telecommunicators through the Smart911 system, a free service that allows individuals and families to create a safety profile online, providing key information to enable faster and more effective emergency response time.

“Chester County’s 72 telecommunicators provide our residents with the vital 9-1-1 service they need by answering calls, and texts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,”Commissioner Terence Farrell added.  “They are skilled professionals who are dedicated to helping our citizens in what is often a great time of need, and they work at dispatching the appropriate assistance as quickly as possible.”

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