No one picks up SOS numbers

No one picks up SOS numbers

Metrolife called emergency service numbers to see how quickly they respond. Sorry, but some much-publicised services are absolute flop shows

Always busy

102 Ambulance 

This is a common number across India for medical emergencies. Funded by the government, it provides free ambulance services. We made four calls between 3 pm and 4 pm on September 11. The line was always busy. We couldn’t get through at all.

 Error message

102 National Emergency Helpline 

An integrated emergency services pan-India number, this is said to be our equivalent of USA’s 911. The service is a total letdown. We called repeatedly and all we got was a message on the phone screen: ‘Server error. Try again later’.

Dead number

1090: Elders Helpline

A joint project of Bengaluru City Police and Nightingales Medical Trust, 1090 was set up in 2002 to help protect the elderly from being abused. When you call, you get a recorded response: ‘Dialled number does not exist.’

Don’t even try

1091: Women In Distress

The All-India helpline number is meant to help women. It was set up after the 2012 Nirbhaya case involving the brutal rape and murder of a physiotherapist in Delhi.

Metrolife kept trying the number. The response? ‘Dialled number does not exist. Please check the number you have dialled.’

And here’s a hall of fame....

Well-staffed, efficient

* 100 Police

Response time: 30 seconds

This is a 24×7 number that gets full marks for quick response.

We clocked 4.93 seconds before we were greeted by an automated message, first in Kannada, then in English. About 30 seconds later, a live voice spoke to us.

This police control room number receives between 2,000 and 3,000 calls a day, with the maximum calls coming at night.

The helpline works in three shifts, with 60 staffers in each shift.

Police personnel undergo training for two to three weeks before they are allowed to take emergency calls.

In the rainy season, the number gets calls from the BBMP for help in clearing roads after tree crashes.

Many hoax calls

101 Fire

Response time: 2 seconds
Our first call got cut after 15 seconds, but when we called the second time, the response was lightning quick (about a second).

Of 150-200 calls the number receives a day, only 10-15 are genuine. The rest are hoax calls.

Five or six staffers are on duty in shifts of eight hours each. They report fake calls to the police.

Helpline personnel are trained for between three days and a month at the R A Mundkur Fire & Emergency Services Academy near Bangalore Dairy.

Calls increase in summer, with many cases of grass catching fire being reported.

200 calls a day

* 1912 BESCOM

Response time: 1 min 

It took one minute for our call to be picked. The helpline gets about 200 calls a day.

During the rainy season, the calls go up to 300. Staff are sometimes overwhelmed by back-to-back calls.

Sixty staffers work in three shifts. “We get calls about disrupted power supply, safety concerns, and fires and short circuits,” says Anushree, who works with the helpline.

Staff are trained for a week training on customer support before they start work.  

Twenty on duty

1916 BWSSB

Response time: 1 min

Gets between 500 and 1,000 calls a day. Call centre strength is about 20. Calls are picked up almost immediately.

Assistant engineers train staff. Lohith, in charge of the BWSSB helpline, told Metrolife, “We get calls about disrupted water supply, leakage, new connections, sanitary-related complaints, manhole covers missing and obstruction of traffic because of dug-up roads to lay underground pipes.”

Call centre alerts the staff concerned. “We pass on complaint details to the assistant engineers of the area. The customer is updated on the status of the complaint.”

A complaint can take up to 48 hours to process. 

Tree crashes, blocks

080-2297 5595 BBMP

Response time: One min
Gets about 100 calls a day. Subramanya, supervisor of the control room, says calls are about crashing trees, death of stray dogs, waterlogging, and obstructions on flyovers.

It works round the clock, with three staffers on duty on each eight-hour shift. “We train the staff on how to talk. We note down the complaints and locations and alert the official concerned,” Subramanya told Metrolife.

Medical counselling

1097 HIV/AIDS Helpline

Response time: 30 seconds. 

Spread across four locations, and manned by 49 counsellors, this helpline provides HIV and AIDS information and counselling.

It gets 1,200 to 1,500 a day, with a significant increase in the wake of events that promote the helpline.

The counsellors go through a week of training before they are allowed to answer calls.

A typical call is three minutes long, with the duration increasing if the caller requires extended counselling.

The language choices are English, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil.

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