La Crosse County, Wisconsin

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One Call Gets It All

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9-1-1 History 

In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice issued a report recommending that police departments nationwide have one number to call.  At the same time, the U.S. House of Representatives was having hearings on the Comprehensive Fire Research and Safety Act of 1967.  They too suggested a single, nationwide telephone number to report fires.  So in early 1968, American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T), the major telephone carrier of that time, established that there should be one number for all emergencies. AT&T was already using  4-1-1 for Directory Assistance and 6-1-1 for Repair Service, so they proposed 9-1-1 as the designated emergency number. 

 

Just 35 days after AT&T made the announcement of 9-1-1, the first 9-1-1 system was implemented in Haleyville Alabama, on February 16, 1968.  By 1972, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommended 9-1-1 be implemented nationwide and a year later the United States government officially encouraged the nation to adopt 9-1-1 systems. 

 

La Crosse’s 9-1-1 Dispatch 

After years of study and preparation, La Crosse County began using 9-1-1 in January of 1983.  At that same time, all the La Crosse County law enforcement and fire fighting agencies combined their dispatching duties to form the La Crosse Emergency Dispatch Center.   Citizens could make one call and the appropriate emergency response would be sent. 

 

The center was in the basement of the County Courthouse and it had room for three dispatchers working at one time.   Each position was equipped with a radio consoles and phone answering station.  At that time, dispatchers shared computers for local, state and national data.  Dispatchers entered calls for service on cards, then hand stamped times and case numbers.  

 

In 1989, the center was remodeled to add another console position and additional computer systems were utilized, including La Crosse’s first Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System. 

 

In 1998, the Communications Center moved to the La Crosse County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center.   Today the center has seven workstations and operates with most of the modern equipment available for public safety dispatching. 

 

In 2003, La Crosse County Emergency Management was combined with the dispatch center to form La Crosse County Emergency Services.   The dispatch center is now called Public Safety Communications. 

 

2008 was the 40th anniversary of the very first 9-1-1 call and also the 25th year of existence for La Crosse County Public Safety Communications. During that time, more than a half-million 9-1-1 calls have been made to our communications center and the staff has handled more than eight million total calls (emergency and non-emergency).

 

Updated:   08/05/2009                                  

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