On June 15, 2023, Peoria County will observe 30 years of enhanced 9-1-1 service. In that time, 9-1-1 telecommunicators have answered more than 3.1 million 9-1-1 calls for Peoria County.
“On behalf of the Emergency Telephone System Board, I would like to thank all the 9-1-1 telecommunicators in our region who answer 9-1-1 calls day and night, every day of the year,” said David Tuttle, Chairperson of the ETSB. “They are the first of the first responders. For 30 years they have been the ones to help people through their emergencies, in what can often be one of the most traumatic times in their life.”
The three-digit number first came to our area in January 1976, when the City of Peoria installed basic 9-1-1 service. This service covered phone exchanges inside the City of Peoria, Peoria Heights, West Peoria, part of Limestone Township, Kickapoo, and Norwood. Basic 9-1-1 did not provide any location technology. In March 1983 the City of Chillicothe installed basic 9-1-1 for citizens that had a 274 phone prefix. At that time, there was no 9-1-1 service in Bartonville or any other area of Peoria County.
Following a highly publicized incident in rural Peoria County where 9-1-1 service was not available, a grassroots effort was mounted in late 1988 that lead to the formation of a group called Citizens for Enhanced 9-1-1. This group’s efforts prompted the Peoria County Board to place a referendum on the 1989 ballot asking voters if they wished to pay $.80 per month on their phone bill to provide Enhanced 9-1-1 service. Enhanced 9-1-1 service provides the caller’s name, address, phone number and a listing of emergency responders that provide service to that address. The referendum passed in by a margin of more than 75%. The Peoria County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) was created to implement and manage the Peoria County 9-1-1 System.
Enhanced 9-1-1 was turned on to all of Peoria County on June 15, 1993. There was now one number to call for any police, fire, or medical emergency. In 1993 there were dispatch centers in Bartonville, Chillicothe, Peoria, and Peoria Heights.
On January 15, 2002, Peoria County began answering Phase 1 wireless calls from wireless phones. Phase 1 allowed the dispatcher to see the caller’s phone number.
On May 8, 2003, Peoria County became one of the first counties in the nation to receive Phase 2 wireless 9-1-1 calls. Phase 2 provided the caller’s phone number as well as approximate location.
On August 8, 2016, Peoria County began accepting text to 9-1-1. Also in this year, the State of Illinois changed the surcharge amount to $ 1.50 per phone device. While local ETSB’s remained in place with local control, the 9-1-1 oversight in Illinois was moved under the Illinois State Police and the Office of the Statewide 9-1-1 Administrator. This change also forced a consolidation of the four dispatch centers in Peoria County from four to two.
In May 2018, the City of Chillicothe and the Village of Peoria Heights contracted for dispatch services with the City of Peoria. There are now two dispatch centers in Peoria County, one in the Village of Bartonville and one in the City of Peoria. Both centers were re-constructed in 2021.