The 911 concept is simple: let callers dial a universal number to reach local emergency personnel. Prior to 1987, Roanoke Valley residents had to call separate 7-digit
phone numbers for police, fire and rescue. What's more, the numbers were
different in Roanoke, Roanoke County, Salem and Vinton.
The 4 local
governments began to meet in 1977 to plan a 911 system for the Roanoke
Valley. In 1984, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to
allow localities to assess a tax on telephone service to fund the
operating expenses of a 911 system. On October 5, 1987, all 4 valley
municipalities turned on Enhanced 911.
Although each locality still
answers its own emergency calls, residents in any part of the Roanoke
Valley can dial one number for immediate police, fire or rescue