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To celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the emergency 999 call (30 June).

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the emergency 999 call (30 June).

Preparation and materials

  • List of hoax calls on whiteboard.
  • Phone and two volunteers to act out a 999 call.
  • isplay words of the song below, to be sung to the tune, ‘This old man’.


  1. Explain that you have a few problems to deal with today. You are not sure which should have priority so would like the children to help by putting them in order of importance. (This could either be done with a show of hands or two volunteers could number their choices on the whiteboard.)

    I’ve lost my glasses and can’t see to peel the potatoes for tea.
    My bus still hasn’t arrived.
    I’m not able to register my vote for Strictly Come Dancing.
    The pizza takeaway shop has delivered the wrong topping.
    Santa is breaking in to a house.
  2. Tell the children that these problems all have one thing in common: they were all hoax calls made to the emergency services. (Check that everyone understands the meaning of the word ‘hoax’.)

    Say that in this country there are six emergency services. They will send a team out at once if there is a dangerous situation. Do you know what these services are? (Fire, police, ambulance, coastguard, cave rescue, mountain rescue.)

    In one region of England alone at least 14 hoax calls a day are made to the emergency services.

    Of the six emergency services the fire brigade bears the brunt of the hoax calls. Remind the children that we should never make a hoax call because this diverts the emergency services away from people who may be in life-threatening situations and need urgent help. It is against the law to make a hoax 999 call, and your call can be traced so you will be found out.
  3. On 30 June 1937, exactly 75 years ago, the first 999 emergency telephone service went into operation in Britain.

    This was the first such service in the world. Now many countries all over the world have a similar service. Help is only a phone call away.
  4. The 999 call is easy to learn. Even four year olds have been able to dial the number and get help.

    (A teacher and pupil could be asked to prepare and act out an emergency scenario and 999 phone call.)
  5. Teach the children the song ‘999’ to remind them of the procedure for calling 999.

    Some children could sing the questions, and some sing the information given.

          Can you dial 999?
          Ask for a service?
          Give your name?
          A few more details?
          Be clear and plain?

          999, 999
          Can you dial 999?
          Ask for a service?
          ‘Ambulance, please!
          My pal Dan
          has an injury.’

          999, 999
          Can you dial 999?
          Ask for a service?
          ‘Policeman, please!
          I’ve just watched
          a robbery.’

          999, 999
          Can you dial 999?
          Ask for a service?
          ‘Fire brigade, please!
          In Abbey Road
          there’s a smoky chimney.’

Time for reflection

Spend a few minutes going over how to make a 999 call. You never know when you might be called on to do this!

Now ask the children to think of all those men and women who work saving lives in this way.

Dear God,
thank you for all the people in the emergency services
who are there to help us.
As they answer phone calls today from worried people,
help them to be calm and reassuring
and to be able to direct support quickly.


Sing the 999 song once more.

Publication date: June 2012   (Vol.14 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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