"999 celebrating 75 glorious years in service!"
75 years ago today London launched the first emergency phone number. After people had been unable to get through to the local fire service about a fire in Wimpole Street in which 5 people died, 999 was introduced. On 30th June, 1937 the capital's emergency number went live and with it the Evening Standard gave out instructions on how to use it.
"Only dial 999... if the matter is urgent; if, for instance, the man in the flat next to yours is murdering his wife or you have seen a heavily masked cat burglar peering round the stack pipe of the local bank building.
"If the matter is less urgent, if you have merely lost little Towser or a lorry has come to rest in your front garden, just call up the local police."
If only the same rules applied! Back in the day a flashing red light and a klaxon alerted the controller to an emergency call being placed. Can you imagine the racket if all 38 million annual 999 calls set off the klaxon! Times change; now we have state of the art operations centers that calls are directed to. Of the 999 calls made 52% are directed to police, 40% to the ambulance service and only *cough cough* 6% to the fire service (of that 6% only 1% is for fires!). It still amazes that despite the 15 million + calls for an ambulance we are still not classed as an emergency service but that is a rant for another day!
Obviously, over time, the essence of what 999 is there for has been lost. I'm sure people do still call for the next door neighbour being murdered or a suspicious looking cat burglar loitering with intent, but the term 'emergency' has become diluted somewhat. People call for anything and everything, some of which beggars belief. The concept of what a real emergency is has most definitely become lost and as such the call volume to 999 is growing year on year. We all laugh, shake our heads and read in dismay at what people call 999 for but it is getting beyond a joke. The 'nanny' culture of sending our already stretched emergency services to many of these calls is causing massive delays to responses and stretching the ever diminishing budget.
Despite rather flat campaigns by police, fire and ambulance as to what people should and shouldn't be calling 999 for, the list of the bizarre, stupid and out right ignorant calls are going unpunished. This is what we are all up against:
- Broken nail
- Broken fake nail
- Pizza delivery taking to long
- TV remote out of reach
- Cat stuck in a tree
- A bad cold
- A stubbed toe
- McDonalds run out of nuggets
- Locked inside a car
- Hit funny bone
- Bedroom window won't open
- Bit tongue
- Can't sleep
- Noise in ear
- Cat won't stop meowing
- Dog won't stop barking
- Turned away from a nightclub
- Cold feet
- Central heating won't turn on
- TV needs re-tuning
- Needs dinner cooking
- Lifted weights and now arms hurt
- Showel gel in eye
- Paper cut
- Pizza has the wrong toppings
- An ex won't give back a jumper
- A lost hamster
- Ladder isn't long enough to reach the gutter
- Needs a lift to near the hospital
- Run out of calpol
- Got paint on clothes from a shop doorway
- Hit with party popper
- TV won't turn on
- Postman hasn't been
- Unable to vote for Strictly Come Dancing
- Infected ear piercing
- Feels sick
- My bins are overflowing and it is stressing me out
- My sister will not let me borrow her clothes
- Someone has walked past my house and looked at me funny
- Smoked cannabis - feels funny
- Hasn't left chair for 2 days - answered the door.....
- Had splinter, now removed
- Almost got hit by a moped"
- Needs pillows fluffing
- Can’t find a lost button
- Mother concerned as son was crying because he failed his driving test
- Diarrhoea for 1 (one) hour
- Feels sick after eating some pizza he found in a bin
- Patient's key snapped in his front door lock so he called an ambulance
- Been burgled, police have been, now feeling stressed
- No money to pay the phone bill, you were the only person I could ring
- The smoke alarm won't stop beeping
- I've been diagnosed with tonsilitis and my throat hurts
- I've got no money for a taxi
- It feels like I have fish swimming around in my arms and legs
- Drank green fluid from thermos flask last night... Didn't realise until this afternoon
- Picked spot on nose, now it's bleeding
- My sons breathing is making a funny noise. Son was fast asleep and snoring
- Headache, taken 1/2 paracetamol 10mins ago and it hasn't helped
There are many many more! I could sit here for hours listing the jobs I've gone to that are not an emergency, as could the police and fire. Over to you! Share ones you have been to or heard of and I'll add the best to the list! So, 75 years on, will the Evening Standard give an updated poster of what people should call 999 to?! I hope so! Anyway! Happy birthday 999!