EDITORIAL: County’s 911 Center result of leadership
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National 911 Program, and it is fitting Mitchell County broke ground for its new call center on such an occasion.
The first call to 911 was placed in February of 1968. Before that call, individuals needed to dial local 10-digit phone numbers to reach police, fire or emergency services. In 1966, the National Academy of Sciences published “Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society,” a landmark report highlighting how accidental death and injury, particularly from motor vehicle crashes, had become an epidemic.
The report urged a series of steps to reduce these needless deaths and injuries, including exploring the “feasibility of designating a single, nationwide telephone number to summon an ambulance.”
Two years later, a Senator in Haleyville, Alabama, placed the first 911 call. Six days later, the second 911 call was placed in Nome, Alaska. Since then, the system expanded nationwide and is improving to keep pace with advancing technology.
Operating out of a nearly 20-year-old FEMA trailer, Mitchell County 911 employees needed a new building before even thinking about getting new technology. In roughly a year, our 911 employees will have a place to call home and at no cost to the taxpayers of Mitchell County.
It’s a remarkable feat by county officials and one that should not go unnoticed. When bids to build the building came in at double the available funding, our elected officials could have thrown in the towel and decided it just was not to be, but they didn’t. They rallied and did the only thing left to do – ask for more money. If they had never asked for it, they certainly would never have gotten it. When the additional funding was granted, the project picked up where it left off, and the rest is history.
Protecting the people they are elected to represent is the crux of elected officials’ duties. What our commissioners, county manager and others did to make this project happen is the epitome of leadership.