Tuesday 11 February 2020


Despite being introduced as a universal, Europe-wide emergency number in 1991 with support for mobile phones and geographic messaging services fully integrated in 2008, subsequent public polls still consistently show a paucity of knowledge in how to ring the police or fire department in a panic, so since 2009, the European Union has commemorated this number on its corresponding calendar date to increase awareness and promote its appropriate use.
Local legacy conventions in many cases still summon a first-responder or redirect—like 999 for Anglophone areas (introduced in 1937 in response to a calamitous house fire at a London boarding house), 911 (1968, which I suppose just slightly faster to dial if one were using a fiddly rotary phone) for those regions historically connected to the United States (Panama, the Philippines, Liberia among others) and 101, 102, or 103—depending on the nature of one’s emergency—in Russia and former Soviet satellites. It’s interesting how one’s sphere of influence—independence and aspirations—are reflected here as well.