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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Urgent, we need a dedicated emergency number

I AM uncomfortable with the idea of having multiple numbers to contact the police during an emergency.

ASP Lai Yong Heng’s response (“Call the right hotline for speedy response” – The Star, April 28) to DJ Bobby Singh’s opinion (“Every second counts in fight against crime” – The Star, April 26) merely states which numbers to call when the public needs to reach the police during an emergency. I feel it does not answer the questions raised by DJ Bobby Singh.

What the good ASP does not realise is that not everyone owns a mobile phone, not everyone has a photographic memory to keep all those numbers in memory, and not everyone is going to recall details like an eight-digit phone number when they have just been assaulted and mugged at knifepoint.

If and when they finally do, it’s already too late.

I challenge you to recall this number 03-2031 9999 after you have just been shot at and your first instinct is to survive. I realise this is an extreme example but emergencies normally are.

Besides, a device that stores these phone numbers such as a mobile phone is a favourite target. It usually gets stolen during a mugging. The victim may have stored all the correct numbers to contact during such emergencies but if it’s stolen, then it’s as good as not having those numbers in the first place.

In my opinion, we need a professional Emergency Service. From the explanation given to DJ Bobby Singh by the police, it sounds like routing 999 calls via a Telekom operator is a problem.

Therefore, let’s replace this system with a dedicated 24-hour service that will help the public get in touch with the right emergency help service. As a victim, chances are I will remember the emergency hotline number 999 better than an eight-digit number.

Dialling this number must get me in touch with a dedicated officer of the proposed emergency service at any time, day and night. The officer will take down my details and at the same time know exactly who to contact to help me and, finally, forward the nature of my emergency and my details to the right aid service.

The beauty of this is that it applies to all sorts of emergencies, Fire and Rescue services, ambulance and also the Coast Guard. This means that this proposed emergency service will have direct links with every emergency service in every state.

This, I feel, is truly valuable; one number to call in any emergency.

After years and years of hearing how lives were lost due to the late response times by our emergency services, I feel such a service has been a long time coming. However, as they say of any good venture, it’s never too late to start.

KARAMJIT SINGH SIDHU,

Kuala Lumpur

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