999 Turns 80!

30th Jun 2017

We all know that the official telephone number for contacting the emergency services in the UK is 999, but did you know if all began in 1935 when 5 women lost their lives in a house fire?

In November 1935, after witnessing a fire break out on a street in London, a neighbour desperately tried to report it by dialling zero in his rotary dial telephone.  Outraged at being put on hold by the telephone exchange, he wrote a letter to The Times, which in turn prompted a parliamentary enquiry for a better way to prioritise emergency calls - leading to the introduction of 999 for use in London in 1937.

The very first 999 call was made by a Mrs Beard, who called to report a burglary at her home in Hampstead.  Later that week The Times reported that a total of 1336 calls had been made to the new 999 number.  It was introduced in Glasgow a year later but it wasn't until after World War II that it was introduced to other parts of the UK.

In the 1990's, the EU decided to introduce 112 to work alongside 999 in the UK.  However, both number connect to the same service, and there is no difference how the Emergency Operations Centre responds to them!  112 number was solely create so that visitors to counties in the EU could remember one easy number for the emergency services.

Emergency SMS works the same as phoning 999, but this innovative service lets those that are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired send a text to the emergency services.  To use this all you need to do is send the word "register" to 999.

Happy Birthday 999!
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