The emergency number was launched 75 years ago today.
More than 5,000 calls a day are handled across the South West but when the service was launched back in 1937 only 1,000 were dealt with a week.
999 was the world's first emergency call service and was set up following the deaths of five women in a house fire.
For 10 years Mel Glanville answered 999 calls at the Great Western Ambulance Service. She said: "Nothing can quite prepare you for taking that first 999 call but the intensive training certainly gives you a good handle on it. It means you can give advice from delivering breached babies to performing CPR on patients that are in cardiac arrest.
"You're the first port of call for people when they're having emergencies and you can be faced with literarily anything at the end of the phone. It can be really challenging, really demanding but also really rewarding."
BT runs the operators who connect our 999 calls to the emergency service we need. Jon Reynolds, BT's South West, regional director, said: "Today, the 999 service is known for its reliability and professionalism. It's not only the world's oldest emergency call service having clocked up 75 years of experience in providing the UK with a communications lifeline in times of need, it's also one of the world's most respected and admired services.
"Many people in this region owe their lives to smooth and effective emergency call handling by BT operators, using the latest technologies to ensure that emergency calls are dealt with swiftly and efficiently. When lives are at stake it's vital that no time is lost. "
Around 40,000 of the calls made to 999 every day aren't actually because people need help but are down to things like people dialling it by accident or children playing with handsets.
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