Celebrating 80 years of 999 and the role of ambulance services

999 was the first emergency telephone number in the world when it was launched on 30 June, 1937. Within the first week, more than a thousand calls were made to the service.

Today, it is 80 years since the service came into effect. A lot has changed in that time, but not the dedication of the emergency services.

Reflecting on this impressive feat, Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) Managing Director Martin Flaherty OBE says:

“The ambulance service has a long and proud history of serving patients, from the earliest days of pre-hospital care right through to the ambulance service of today which uses the latest cutting edge clinical techniques and technology to save many lives every year.

The introduction of the 999 number in 1937 was a historic moment which has had far-reaching positive implications for all emergency services and for the British public overall.

It has meant fast, simple access to the whole emergency services network and has undoubtedly saved countless lives over the past 80 years, especially in healthcare where immediate treatment can be crucial for the patient.

The ambulance service is proud to have been part of the 999 network for the past eight decades. Our current challenge is to try and ensure people use 999 wisely, and only when there is an urgent need for an ambulance.”