Hoax callers could be putting lives at risk in Himachal Pradesh as around half of the calls made to medical emergency numbers turn out to be malicious. According to GVK EMRI- an agency providing 102, 108 medical emergency services in the state, 49% calls were ineffective out of the total 7 lakh calls it received.
The emergency service providers have observed that such calls can clog lines for people who really need the service. Besides prank calls, emergency numbers get calls from silent or abusive callers. However, as per the agency, percentage of hoax or ineffective calls have come down from 0.31% in 2015 to 0.19% in 2016 but still such calls block the emergency services for genuine calls.
“Many seek breaking news, weather updates, pre-paid mobile phone recharge. Many non-emergency calls are made due to frustration but we can’t ignore them,” said Mehul Sukumaran, state head GVK EMRI. “Our services will be more efficient and effective if these ineffective calls reduce. This emergency service is meant for people only to use the service effectively. Each call is an emergency call for us,” he said.
According to Mehul Sukumaran, there are instances when people dial 108 for fire and other emergencies, while many others dial the emergency numbers unnecessarily.
It seems that there are people who call these emergency numbers for a time pass and ask for irrelevant information. An emergency service employee, requesting anonymity, said that some people even intentionally ask for home delivery of food items while calling an ambulance service number. “No action has been taken against any such person so far, despite the fact that some of them resort to abusive language. These people are not afraid of anything and have no respect for emergency numbers,” added the employee.
As an immediate step, the officials at GVK EMRI regularly counsel the nuisance callers by making them understand about the importance of ‘108 and 102’ number. Repeated nuisance callers are further counseled by police officers sitting in 108 Emergency Response Centre, Solan. Finally the elements continuing the same behaviour are reported for police actions.