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Maricopa County's 911 System Turns 30

telephone
(Photo by Sky Schaudt - KJZZ)
When the system was first implemented in 1985, there were 1.8 million people in Maricopa County with access to 1.1 million telephone lines.

Most people these days know that the first thing to do in an emergency is call 911 — but, that wasn’t always the case.

The 911 emergency system in Maricopa County is celebrating what is just its 30th anniversary. Before 1985, getting an emergency response started meant dialing separate seven-digit numbers for police and fire or medical assistance.

The Maricopa Association of Governments, which oversees the system, said there were 2.8 million calls answered by more than 1,000 people in Valley 911 centers last year.

When the system was first implemented, there were 1.8 million people in Maricopa County with access to 1.1 million telephone lines. Now those numbers are 4 million people and 4.25 million access lines.

Officials said 80 percent of the emergency calls now come from cellphones.

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In the wee small hours of the morning, when most of us are working on REM sleep, Morning Edition host and reporter, Dennis Lambert busily prepares the news and information KJZZ listeners hear as they prepare for the day. He did that for KJZZ listeners from 1996 to 2016. Dennis retired in 2016.