Call of duty: 999 workers marking special date
Dundee call handlers to help celebrate service’s 80th birthday
Dundee call handlers for the world’s oldest emergency phone service are celebrating 80 years of answering the nation’s 999 calls.
The centre’s staff of around 100 receive and direct more than four million emergency calls from across the UK a year, passing on both serious and curious inquiries to fire, police and ambulance services in less than 35 seconds.
The 999 service is celebrating its 80th anniversary, after being established in 1937.
Dundee’s centre staff will be holding a special celebration event today, where guest of honour Edna McCrodden – who started her long career with BT in 1956 at a GPO exchange in Montrose – has been invited to cut a celebration cake.
Mrs McCrodden will also tour the modern facility, comparing how the role and requirements of a phone operator has evolved since her retirement at the turn of the century.
Line manager Elaine Marr, who answered the first 999 call directed to Dundee when the service moved to the centre in 2012, congratulated her team for continuing to provide an excellent service.
She said: “Our team of staff are an incredibly dedicated group. With recent events, we had staff members coming in for extra work, offering their services to handle the extra workload and helping one another through trying times.
“Our full-time call handlers will answer and direct an average of around 600 calls on a shift, with the aim of placing the call to the correct emergency service within 31 seconds.
“This can be done in as quick as seven seconds, but it will all depend on the nature of the call and how the caller is handling the situation.”
Scotland’s handling centres are located in Dundee and Glasgow, and between them answer more than nine million calls per year.
It’s a little-known fact that around 100 trained Dundee staff handle some 4 million emergency calls each year from around the UK. And three cheers to them, as the service celebrates its 80th anniversary today.
Even better that today’s guest of honour started with the service in Montrose in 1956.
While times and technology have changed, the crucial importance of their work remains. Happy birthday 999.
The 999 service, which has centres in Dundee and Glasgow, was established in 1937.