3 Calls, No Answer: My Experience With 112 Emergency Number

3 Calls, No Answer: My Experience With 112 Emergency Number

My Report

Around 3 am on the morning of 13 October, I called the emergency services number ‘112’. There was a baraat (wedding) procession near my house in Hyderabad’s Malakpet, and I wanted to report the disturbance caused because they were quite loud.

I called the number three times but there was no response. Given that this single number service is similar to ‘911’ in the US, I assumed there will be a quick response and swift action. I was proved wrong.

Launched in February, Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) as it was called, was operationalised to deal with all kinds of emergencies – fire, ambulance, police, and most importantly, women’s safety. The then-home minister Rajnath Singh had launched the number in 16 states and union territories, mine one of them.

Luckily, I was not facing any serious emergency. I only wanted to report a noise disturbance.

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The real fear would be for those in a life-threatening situation. If they can’t get the required help in time through the emergency service number, what is the facility for anyway? When confronted with such a situation, there is a lot of panic. If ‘112’ doesn’t work then, what else can an individual do?

What would happen if they do not have network on their number or no other way to contact their loved ones?

My phone has the option for an SOS call that redirects to the emergency helpline. But if the number is not working in the first place, the purpose is defeated.

After that day, I have fortunately not been in a situation that required me to call the number. However, if there is an emergency, I wouldn’t know what steps to take if it is so difficult to get through emergency helplines in the country.

We need to have a faster process to ensure the safety of citizens. It is ironic that this service was recommended to reduce police response time. It is even more disappointing that the service was launched to provide immediate assistance to women in distress – is it really doing that? I hope my experience was just an exception.

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