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Emergency team handles record call numbers

17 July 2018

While the country was celebrating England’s quarter final win against Sweden, we were answering a record number of 999 calls.

Our voice services team, which handles all 999 calls in the UK, answered a total of 129,265 emergency calls on Saturday 7 July. This compares to a daily average of 88,000. New Year’s Day is normally our busiest, averaging 115,000 calls. The average time to answer calls on the day was less than 0.8 seconds.

It was also our fifteenth consecutive day of dealing with more than 100,000 calls. Occasionally we’ll reach that level in 24 hours at the weekend, but it’s rare to receive so many for more than three days in a row.

The recent heatwave was the major contributor to the rise.

Air ambulance

Geoff Hickman, BT GM Voice Services says: “Extreme weather is always the biggest driver of 999 calls. Prolonged hot and sunny weather increases the number of heat-related medical cases. It also means more people swimming in rivers and reservoirs, more barbecues – and more drinking. And it increases the risk of woodland and moorland fires.”

The emergency services were also under strain which meant they took longer to answer each call we put through, this placed further demands on our team.

Geoff says: “The UK public relies on us 24 hours a day, so we deployed several contingency measures. Managers and support staff have been taking calls; dozens of team members have worked extra hours and moved or suspended their breaks.

“And managers have been buying in drinks and ice creams and other supplies to keep everyone refreshed.”

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