NEW figures reveal adults in the north west have called emergency services twice, on average, in their lives.

The poll, commissioned by BT, reveals that most calls to the 999 number are now made from a mobile phone.

Sixty per cent of adults in the North West have made a 999 call from a mobile, compared to 53 per cent making the same call from a landline.

The survey has been published by BT to mark this year's 999 Day (yesterday), an annual celebration of the work of emergency services across the UK.

Six BT call centres handle all the UK's 999 calls in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, passing calls to the relevant emergency service.

The number of 999 calls handled by BT has increased significantly in recent years, jumping from around 25 million calls a year in 2000, to close to 33 million calls last year.

The poll of adults across the UK, conducted by Opinion Matters, showed that many people are not clear when to call 999 or 112, and when to call non-emergency numbers such as 101 and 111.

In the North West, 5 per cent of adults said they don’t know when to call 999.

In the region 38 per cent of adults know that they can call 101 for a non-emergency police issue. Women in the UK are more likely than men to know they can call 111 in a medical non-emergency, with half of women (52 per cent) knowing when to call 111, compared to under 2 in 5 (38 per cent) of men.

Nearly 60 per cent of adults in the North West also did not know that smartphones can now provide the exact location of a 999 caller by sending an automatic text to the 999 call handler.

The majority of mobile phones (70 per cent) – including Android and Apple smartphones – can now detect that an emergency call is being made, and sends the caller’s precise GPS position to within three metres to the 999 service during the call.

This can help emergency services get to incidents more quickly and save lives.

BT’s 999 call centres in England, including one in Merseyside, handled nearly 28 per cent (9.1m) of these calls.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of adults across the UK believe that there were less than 10 million 999 calls made in the last year.

Geoff Hickman, Head of Voice Services at BT, said: “We are now handling record numbers of 999 calls each year. There may be several reasons for this, but it’s clear from the survey that not everyone knows when to call the emergency number, and when to call the range of non-emergency numbers.

“With nearly 80per cent of people now using a smartphone, we have a lot of people carrying potential life-savers in their pockets. Using a smartphone’s location service, our call handlers can now pinpoint a 999 caller to within three metres in seconds. This could mean, for example, being able to tell which side of the motorway the call has come from, helping an ambulance get to a scene ten minutes earlier, which is potentially life-saving.

“Our call handlers and emergency services do phenomenal work, so anything we can do to help them respond more efficiently, and potentially save lives, has to be a good thing.”

A spokesperson for North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) said: “The trust uses the AML system to allow us to pinpoint certain smartphone users when they call 999. This is used when callers are unsure of their location and allows us to identify where they are to within a close radius.

“This invaluable service can help us provide a faster response to people unsure of their exact location, giving us extra vital minutes which could prove lifesaving.”