Saturday 30 June 2012

Happy Birthday

"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:
  • Sunburn
  • Broken nail
  • Broken fake nail
  • Pizza delivery taking to long
  • TV remote out of reach
  • Cat stuck in a tree
  • Toothache
  • 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
  • Scared
  • 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!


  1. Had one this week where a guy had set off for hospital with a #wrist, only to find he couldn't remember which road the hospital was on, so rather than as someone he dialed 999, and they sent an Rrv.

  2. "My brother will not give me the TV remote"
    "I want the number for the Crisis team"
    "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"

    There are hundreds more, I wish I was joking but all of these attracted a police response in the form of a visit, rather than being told that it was nothing for the police over the phone.

  3. "smoked cannabis - feels funny"
    "hasn't left chair for 2 days" - answered the door.....
    "toothache" - google said it maybe an MI.......
    "HAD splinter, now removed"
    "ALMOST got hit by moped"

    1. hahahaha!! I love the cannabis one! Been to the same! Must blog about that!

  4. * fluff up pillows
    * find a lost button
    * mother concern as son was crying because he failed his driving test
    * ran out of medication
    * diarrhoea for 1 (one) hour
    * now feels sick after eating some pizza he found in a bin
    * patient can feel invisible children tweeking her toes
    * elderly patient smoked a joint, now feels light headed and 'strange'
    * patient's key snapped in his front door lock so he called an ambulance
    * alcoholic calls ambulance as its his human rights that the crew should go out and buy him some booze,

    so glad to hear others get this sh*t...bring back selective chargeable calls. If we can give drugs that are dangerous, we can surely work out which calls should be charged.

    1. We all get it, it's nice to share stories! I'll add some of yours to the list!

  5. forgot to add, slight difference but a complaint came in against a colleague who apparently 'looked at a patient's cat funny'. This was investigated by the then area manager.

    1. Haha! I'd love to have a complaint on my file like that!

  6. ooh on the crisis team I work for I've had people ringing because they can't find radio four, a police officer calling because "there's someone leaning out of a window shouting obscenities in Chinese, at least I think they're obscenities but I don't know because I don't speak Chinese but you need to come round and section them", and a woman who wanted us to section her teenage son in case he caused her embarrassment at a party in two weeks' time. Brilliant.

  7. Replies
    1. Yes, been to one of them before! I'll add it!

  8. We had a call for a big fight/ mini riot, when we got there it was on a film!!!!!!!

  9. Went for a gentleman whose wife had a baby the day before and he wanted to go to the hospital to visit her!
    Went to a call for a 'dead baby'...panicked... No need it was a schizophrenic's ham sandwich!!
    Old lady needs us to make her a cup of tea.
    The best one though was that my brother is going to have a fit???!!!! Call me back when he does or would you rather I sit with him???

    1. I've been to loads of those 'about to have a fit'! So boring!

  10. We had a frequent flier whose MO was to ask for an ambulance to come and peel his banana! Read that any way you like...

  11. Had a guy once insist that as his carers were 2 hours late that we were to fetch him a pot noodle from garage, when we looked in his cupboards they were full of other food but he insisted on a pot noodle, para area manager who also attended insisted we did it as the guy threatened to ring again if we left. When eventually we agreed he had no money and wanted me to fund it as well!!

    1. We little pick up the slack for everyone!!

  12. Hear about a guy who called an ambulance because he swallowed a fly!

  13. Went to a lady who had been discharged to home. When PTS dropped her off the home oxygen engineer had been to service her unit. She rang 999 to say she couldn't breath, on arrival she just wanted the home oxygen unit placing back against the wall where it originally was, we turned it the 90 degrees that was required and left !

  14. Got called to a Ca patient who had 'swollen feet and sounds drunk'. Got to the property to see said pt. feet were indeed a little swollen, asked how long this has been going on. Pt replied, oh I normally get it after my treatment. Right so what do you want us to do? Well I don't know, I didn't even call you. Ok so we just appeared and miraculously knew you had swollen feet?

    1. It's those 999 calling pixies up to no good again!

  15. Saw "presenting complaint: sore throat" in A&E at 05.00. Was not impressed.

    1. Haha! I bet A & E were not impressed either!

  16. Saw "presenting complaint: sore throat" in A&E at 05.00. Was not impressed.

    1. Was just replying and realised I already had!

  17. Sigh.... First aid as part of the national cirriculum... and emergency definition as well. It has to start there as well as the ambulance service defining and keeping to its definition of emergency. But to add to the stories....999 call to male with Plastic cable tie around genitals for 2 days and to worried to cut it off!

    1. Yep, needs to start young. PMSL! Cable tie round genitals! Thats a new one!

  18. There was one I heard in Bristol - there were no buses on Crow Road and what were the police going to do about it!

  19. "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"

    All genuine 999 calls I have received over the last 4 years as an EMD!

  20. Both calls recieved yesterday:

    1) "It feels like I have fish swimming around in my arms and legs"

    2) Drank green fluid from thermos flask last night... Didn't realise until this afternoon!

    1. You hero! What did you do about the fish?!

  21. CPR in progress... Get there and noone looks even remotely like they maybe or may have been doing CPR... Went priority for a cut finger at 0100, that the guy had cut the day before and had since seen the GP about...

    1. I love non existant CPR in progress! As i we wont realise on arrival!

  22. SOB, get there he'd turned off his O2 machine.

    Headache, taken 1/2 paracetamol 10mins ago and it hasn't helped.

    During the really bad snow and freezing temps, old lady had put washing out to dry and wanted us to get it as the snow was too deep and there was ice underneath.

    My sons breathing is making a funny noise. Son was fast asleep and snoring (until we woke him up!)

    Male. Sat on a bottle!!!! (apparently naked and very unlucky when sitting down!?!)

    Ive run out of paracetamol, can you go to the shop 3 doors away and get me some (fully mobile pt)

    Can't sleep.

    Can't breathe, but never stops talking (also calls so frequently can write prf enroute)

    Nose bleed for 5mins

    Picked spot on nose, now it's bleeding.

    1. Brilliant! I'll add some of them! Thanks!

  23. Can I call you out? I've rolled my eyes so much at these 'emergencies' I'm worried they might fall out of my head! I fear for the future of the human race sometimes, I really do.


  24. "took herbal sleeping tablets - now feeling drowsy"
    - no sh*t Sherlock!

    "people are driving patient mad"
    -then you probably don't want to know what drives us mad...

  25. Christmas Cash Loans-Helps in Enjoying The Festival instant Payday Loans as an effect, today
    almost 20 million americans are checking out non-bank lending
    options, like check cashing, installment, payday and pawn loans.


I love comments! All bloggers do! If you have something to say, agree or disagree I would love to hear it! I will reply to all! (or try my very best!) If however, you're a troll, save your breath!

Due to an increase in spam I moderate comments but ALL genuine comments will be posted. See above exclusions!