First 911 call remembered in MOV for 50 year anniversary

VIENNA, W. Va. (WTAP) - 50 years ago, this month, the very first 911 call took place in Haleyville, Alabama. And a local man says his father made it possible.

John Gallagher is a priest at St. Michaels Catholic Church in Vienna. He was a teenager when his father orchestrated the first 911 call. His father, BW Gallagher, was a manager at an independent phone company in Alabama in the 60's.

B.W. was reading about AT&T's idea for 911 in the Wall Street Journal and wanted to beat them to it. And he did.

The first call was made on February 16th 1968. It came from the mayor's office in Haleyville and rang to a bright red phone at the police station.

"I've been very proud of it, and we're very proud of him. I know that every year the 911 Emergency group meets somewhere, they have a convention just like any other organization and they asked my dad to speak to the organization about the first call, and he did. It's just been part of our family and we've always talked about. He's certainly been proud that he was the one that was able to do that.” Says John.

“Just think of the millions of lives that 911 has saved actually when my dad was sick one time we had to call 911."

B.W. passed away in 2010, but his legacy lives on. John says he and his family just found out that the red phone used to make the call will be displayed at the Smithsonian’s museum of American History.

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