Why compose-t-on 911 in an emergency?

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    Hélène Laurin

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017 15:08

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017 15:08

    Look at this article

    An emergency? Quickly the 911. This is a number so universal that we don’t even think anymore. But this issue has not always existed.

    And it is not universal either. It is 911 in Canada and the United States, but the 112 in the european Union countries, 999 in Britain and 000 in Australia. Hence the idea of a single emergency number is it output?

    A deadly fire… but the person at the other end of the line

    How did people “in the old days”? Before 1935, there was no emergency phone number. We had to call the operator (which we put in communication with the emergency services.

    In several cities in the us and the uk, there were also species of phone booths called “police boxes”. These cabins fulfilled many functions. They had both a phone with a line establishing a direct communication with a police station, and they were at the same time of the mini-offices for police officers on patrol. The latter could check the recent calls, filling out forms, or even keep someone a prisoner the time of the transfer to the police station.

    Screenshot – British Telephones

    Notice to fans of the series “Doctor Who”: this cabin you will be well familiar.

    One may doubt that this kind of cabin was not the most reliable in the world. What to do if there is a fire in our home, but we live far from each one of these cabins? Or what if the operator does not respond?

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    Unfortunately, this is what happened to Philip Franklin, a surgeon in london, on November 10, 1935. On this day, the home of Franklin has been razed to the ground by the fire, and, although he has attempted to call the emergency services, nobody answered. Five people have lost their lives. This tragedy has outraged the population, an investigation was opened and two years later, on July 1, 1937, the first emergency phone number was inaugurated in Great Britain.

    Since the British never do anything like the rest of the world, they are decided on the “999”.

    zoltangabor – stock.adobe.com

    Notice to tourists: this issue is still in force.


    The United States followed suit

    It was in 1968 that the first 911 call is housed in the United States. Our neighbors have actually encountered the same problems that the British a few decades before.

    Imagine the situation: just in Los Angeles, there were 50 police stations, each with its own phone number! If the line was busy, the person at the other end of the line would remember. Not when his own life – or the life of people you love is literally in the game.

    In 1957, the National Fire Chief’s Association asked that there is a single emergency number, but it was in 1967 that discussions to this effect have commenced, and, ultimately, a year later.

    And why the numbers 9-1-1? It is a suite of short, easy to remember and it can be composed quickly. The more elderly among you remember probably phones at roulette; he had to turn the roulette for the higher figures and it was long. With two times the number 1, the time spent to dial the number was reduced, although useful when there is an emergency. Of course, technology, touch-tone has made such considerations obsolete.

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    W. Scott McGill – stock.adobe.com

    This design has influenced many more than the number 911.


    Implantation later in Quebec

    In Canada, something quite surprising happened: Winnipeg has had to change its emergency number. First of all inspired by Great Britain, Winnipeg has surpassed all the world, even the United States, in establishing the 999 as the emergency telephone number, single in 1959. The city changed the number to 911 in 1972 to follow the United States.

    In Quebec, Laval introduces first 911 service in 1977. This is that 8 years later, on December 1, 1985 (!), the City of Montréal (Montréal urban Community) inaugurated the 911 service on its territory.

    Now, 28 call centers to respond to emergency calls throughout the province.

    Before 911: 3 numbers to memorize

    And prior to 1985, what is it that Montrealers were when their lives or the lives of their loved ones depended on it? It was important to remember three phone numbers: the police (934-2121), fire (872-1212) and the ambulance (842-4242).

    It was before the function “memory numbers” on the phones.

    Contact the emergency services should be a lot of fun (not really).

    cristina_conti – stock.adobe.com

    “This is a murder. Oh! I made a wrong number! Ok! Thank you!”


    Le Journal de Montréal

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