Phoning the emergency services in the UK is taught at a very young age – a quick response can save lives. We are taught the number to dial, 999, in case of emergencies. This puts you through to an operator who will ask which service you require: ambulance, police, fire or coastguard. London, UK was the first emergency number system to be deployed anywhere in the world in July 1937.
In the USA (as well as Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Paraguay) it is 911 – as seen in a lot of movies. This was introduced in 1968 in the US but only becoming universal across America in the 1980s. New Zealand is 111, Australia 000 and the European emergency number is 112.
What are they?
Emergency numbers are usually 3 digits, quick to dial and, importantly, easy to remember. The emergency services operator or dispatcher will immediately be able to identify the caller (through the same system used by telephone companies for billing purposes) and therefore location if calling from a landline, saving valuable time.
Bangalore Emergency Numbers
When we moved to Bangalore one of the first things I asked was “what is the emergency number?”. What I wasn’t expecting was the reply “which one?”. So here they are – the Bangalore Emergency numbers:
Police control room – 100
Fire – 101
Accident – 103
Children – 1098
HIV / AIDS – 1097
Senior Citizens – 1090
Women – 1099
It’s a lot to remember and recalling them in an emergency, when distraught and / or traumatised, will not be easy.
The future is 112
There are plans in place for a new emergency number, 112, to be introduced to replace all others. The single 3 digit number for all emergency services is to be welcomed as it will be easy to remember when an emergency occurs.
However, it appears that this plan in its current form is merely adding a layer onto the system already in place rather then replacing or revamping it. That will inevitably lead to delays.
The plan is that when some one calls 112 they are put through to an operator at an ’emergency handling centre’ who collects relevant data location details and caller identification either from a database or from the caller. They then classify the nature of the emergency- ‘medical, security, disaster etc’ are given as examples. The relevant responding agency is alerted which dispatches ‘appropriate resources’ to the emergency location.
Now I’m no expert but I think in an emergency that the first thing to do is alert the appropriate service then gather the details as they can be preparing and getting ready / on their way whilst details are being gathered. The proposed new Bangalore system seems it will have inherent delays. In addition, I have yet to see a paramedic in a fully equipped ambulance here. Ambulances are hospital specific and tend to be like mini buses with drivers and no visible medical equipment but carry lots of family members. Another change which could save lives but we are in India where medical care has to be paid for (in advance) and dispatching a paramedic in a fully equipped ambulance will obviously incur a charge that someone may not be able to pay. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the NHS in the UK.
Replacing all the other numbers with 112 will be a good start but so much more also needs to be improved if more lives are to be saved.