Call of duty: 999 work­ers mark­ing spe­cial date

Dundee call han­dlers to help cel­e­brate ser­vice’s 80th birth­day

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - Paul ma­lik pa­ma­lik@the­

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.

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