Monday, July 21, 2008

Just because you think someone should have done it, doesn't mean that they have

Something that's been popping up lately (I've done it twice in the past fortnight) - making 111 calls. A lot of the time, people will assume that someone has put a call through to Fire, Ambulance or Police, especially if the incident is somewhere lots of people can see it. The problems is, everyone is thinking exactly the same thing - Oh, someone will have done it already, I don't need to. And nobody makes the call!

And just because you'll see people holding cellphones, furiously pushing buttons, don't presume that means someone is making the call either. More often than not, they're texting their friends about it, or taking a picture with the built-in camera, and then texting it to all their friends.

So, for the sake of the safety of anyone who may be involved - time is often very critical - if you see something that needs to be dealt with by emergency services, pick up the phone, and dial 111. It's free (even if your phone is out of credit), and the worse thing that can happen is that you'll be told they've already received the call, thank you for calling. The consequences of not having help arrive as soon as possible could be fatal.

Things to remember when dialling 111:

The operator will ask whether you want Fire, Police or Ambulance - don't give them the story, tell them which service you need. If you aren't sure which you need, ask for the Police, and tell them what is going on, and they can organise everything else required.

For vehicle accidents where people may be injured, you'll want both the Ambulance and the Police, and maybe Fire too. The operator will put you through to the ambulance service first, and listen in to get the details to pass on to the Police and Fire.

Remain calm, and speak clearly.

Identify where the incident is. They can't help you if they can't find you! Building names, street numbers, street names, town or city - the call centre often isn't actually in your city, so they won't know which Main Road you are talking about unless you tell them! Identify the nearest intersections if you can. If you are in a rural area, things like the RAPID rural number of the nearest address, and any landmarks can be useful.

Don't forget to give them you phone number so they can call you back if they need more information. Caller ID doesn't work well if you are calling from an office phone on a PABX system for example, and some phone numbers just don't show up.

You're going to be asked a lot of questions about what is going on, but every bit of information is useful.

Stay on the phone until they tell you that you can hang up. You can also ring 111 again if things get worse, or the services haven't shown up when you expect them to.

More information on the 111 service can be found here -

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