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North Wales Fire and Rescue Service joins national week of action to help callers #KnowExactlyWhere in an emergency with what3words


From Monday 25th July - Sunday 31st August, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service will be taking part in the #KnowExactlyWhere summer safety campaign to raise awareness of the free what3words app and how it can be effectively utilised in an emergency.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has been using what3words since 2019. It has been used a number of times to help us to ensure our resources are sent exactly where help is needed, fast.

what3words has divided the world into a grid of 3 metre squares, and given each square a unique identifier made of three random words – a what3words address. /// for example, identifies a specific location on the A449 just outside Llandenny in Monmouthshire.

 It was to this exact location that a mother, experiencing an asthma attack while driving with her seven-year-old daughter, directed an ambulance. While struggling to breathe, she managed to speak the three words to the Welsh Ambulance team, before her brave daughter had to take over the call. Using the what3words address, the paramedics found the precise location quickly, and saved her life.

‘Where’s the emergency?’ is one of the first questions you are asked when calling 999 but describing exactly where emergency services should go can be challenging. Emergencies can happen anywhere, from a remote beach in Scotland, to the side of the M1, or the middle of Hyde Park. Services often can’t detect where you are automatically and dropped pins are difficult to explain over the phone. At best, this is a frustrating drain on resources. At worst, it can mean the difference between life and death.

The app is free to download for both iOS and Android and works offline – making it ideal for use in areas of the UK with an unreliable data connection, such as beaches, national parks and campsites – which are incredibly popular during the summer months. what3words can also be used via the online map at The app is available in 51 languages, including Welsh, and can be used anywhere in the world.

what3words is now used by over 85% of UK emergency services – police, fire and ambulance – and has become an important tool in the emergency toolkit.  While not intended as a replacement for traditional 'must-pack' outdoor safety gear for hikes, camping trips, and other outdoor adventures, the technology has become a well-used partner to emergency services, saving dispatchers and responders precious time and resources in an emergency.

Emergency services are trained to gather as much location information as possible from callers and have access to a number of different technologies and methods which help them to identify callers' locations – with what3words being one of them.

Rhiannon Smith, Head of Control at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“We’re encouraging the public to download the what3words app on their smart phones.

“The app can be used in emergency situations and is also an useful aid for anyone who needs a better understanding of their location.

“What3words can reduce the amount of time spent pinpointing the location of a fire, allowing crews to get to work to tackle the fire before it spreads.

“It’s great to see new technology being developed which is accessible for most of us and can really make a big difference in times of need.”

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