Hoax calls for ambulance service, despite decline, still make for 74% of all calls

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

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Hoax calls for ambulance service, despite decline, still make for 74% of all calls

Saumya Mishra | June 01, 2019 16:23 hrs

The number of prank calls or ineffective calls for emergency ambulance services in Guwahati as well as Assam has reduced, informed officials. However, the continuing ineffective calls still make up for a majority of the calls received by the helpline. 
    
At present, the helpline has to deal with 74 per cent false calls, informed Koushik Shankar Saikia, regional director of GVK-EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute), the company which manages the 102 and 108 ambulance services in the state. Currently, the service helpline receives merely 26 per cent genuine emergency calls.

“These ineffective or false calls are the ones which aren’t essential or emergency in nature. These are either prank calls, hoax, abusive calls or silent calls. As a result, the telephone lines often remain blocked for genuine callers,” added Saikia.

The authorities feel that if it weren’t for these prank calls, they would be able to attend to a lot more genuine emergency cases and in turn, could save more lives. “It brings down the efficacy of the service to a great extent,” said Saikia. 
  
Dhurjoti Prasad, communications officer at GVK-EMRI, said that while some people call and ask for LPG cylinder bookings or for mobile recharge, a number of men also call the helpline just to speak to the female executives.

Authorities mentioned that over the past few months, they have brought in place a few control mechanisms to check the number of hoax calls received by their helplines. 

They said one of the steps to regulate hoax calls includes that if a false call is received by their helpline continuously for four to five times, the particular phone number is blocked by them for the next 24 hours.
  
“If five different call receivers at our call centre track and mark a particular phone number as not being a genuine emergency case, we then block the number for 24 hours,” said a senior GVK-EMRI official.

According to them, they have managed to reduce the total number of ineffective calls by adopting these measures. 

The authorities further added that they have also noticed a reduction in the time to convert an emergency call into contacting the nearest available ambulance from the earlier 120 seconds to 85 seconds now.  

“We have trained our personnel who now use live tracking of the location of the call to ascertain their exact address. So the call centre representatives do not waste time in asking the address of the caller,” said Saikia. 

He added that with these filters in place, they are now able to quickly differentiate between ineffective and effective calls.  
    
All ambulance calls now accessible by one central number

GVK-EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute), which manages the 102 and 108 ambulance services in the state have merged their 102 and 108 services.

Now the residents only have to dial one number 108 for all ambulance related services, informed GVK-EMRI officials on Tuesday.

Earlier, 102 ambulance service was meant for shifting a patient from a lower level hospital to a higher-level treatment facility while the 108 service was being used for emergency cases.

The officials also informed that the merger of 102 and 108 ambulances took place on April 1 last and the call centres of the two services have also been merged now and they have taken some steps to minimise the response time.

“The average response time for an emergency situation has now reduced from the earlier 20-25 minutes to 14-15 minutes in Kamrup (Metro) district. For this, we conducted some counselling and training of our personnel and the merger also helped to bring all manpower together,” said Koushik Shankar Saikia, regional director of GVK-EMRI.    
  
He added that they have been trying to improvise and bring about changes in their workings to lower the response time of ambulance for residents.   

Reducing the response time has been a major impediment for officials. The emergency service authorities revealed that the response time is still high in the remote and interior areas of the state.
   
They also appealed to the people to not wait for the last minute to call an ambulance.

“We have seen in several delivery cases that family members often keep waiting for want of a normal delivery in cases of pregnancy. This is dangerous and can cause serious repercussions to the mother and can also pose a risk to her life. We would like to request and appeal to people to call the ambulance as soon as they feel the need,” informed Saikia.

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