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‘Nee-Naw Nee-Naw’: UK emergency services answer siren call of longer tweets

The Guardian // 10th November 2017
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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘Nee-Naw Nee-Naw’: UK emergency services answer siren call of longer tweets” was written by Martin Belam, for theguardian.com on Thursday 9th November 2017 17.35 UTC

Britain’s emergency services have spent the past 24 hours using Twitter’s controversial new 280-character limit to imitate the sounds their vehicles make when out on duty.

The fun thread started with the London ambulance service, which used a combination of “Nee-Naw” and ambulance emoji to take advantage of the newly generous Twitter character allowance.

The Scottish fire and rescue service got in on the act immediately.

And the police followed close behind.

Twitter changed their service, which used to limit tweets to 140 characters, earlier in the week. Many users have expressed unhappiness with the change, including the authors JK Rowling and Stephen King. One rather more forcefully than the other.

Those complaints didn’t deter the British emergency services, however, from playing a game of imitating sounds that any parent with toddlers is familiar with.

A spokesperson for the London ambulance service NHS trust said: “This tweet has been seen on Twitter over one million times and helped us engage with hundreds of new people. Some of our staff have said it has made them feel proud of where they work. We always aim to get the balance right as the London ambulance account is also a trusted source of timely and accurate information during a major incident.”

Services with more exotic equipment than mere road ambulances were able to show off – London’s air ambulance went for a “Wokka-Wokka” helicopter noise.

The British Transport Police were able to throw the classic “Choo-Choo” sound into the mix.

The RNLI made full use of the wave emoji

And the British Transport Police also confessed something we’ve all suspected – that the police regularly incorporate doughnuts into their working day. And a lot of paperwork.

The National Crime Agency seemed to over-complicate things slightly.

And on social media, there’s always someone who wonders if your joke might in fact represent something more sinister.

This police parody account leapt into the thread to make a political point about budget cuts to the police under the government’s austerity measures.

The thread crossed the Atlantic, with a question about whether British ambulances have a British accent.

A Spanish account joined in, highlighting the different siren sounds around the world

Some added their impressions of how emergency services used to sound in the past.

People joked that messing about on Twitter was distracting emergency services frontline staff.

Although some people also expressed a genuinely held view that this wasn’t what emergency services should be spending time and effort on.

But ultimately, many people left with the impression that maybe the Twitter 280 character move won’t totally stifle jokes on the platform after all.

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