Of Cabbages and Kings

November 26, 2008

Calling 999

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 3:19 am

It is interesting that this should come up in today’s paper since I spent the last evening reading all I could on the emergency numbers that one might use in London. 

Two young men  – good friends of my flatmate – were mugged in Camden and left unconcious on the street. This sort of story frightens me. London is full of dark streets and one in three international students are apparently robbed. So I think it is safe to assume that I stand a reasonable chance of being attacked over this year.  The next question I suppose would be – what does one do if one sees goons sidle up on a lonely street? Shouting and attempting to run usually results in more violence so that’s not an option. The only thing that remains is to get in touch with the police and so we turn to 999.

999 is a one-stop emergency number so after you dial, you usually have to choose from a menu of options as to what kind of emergency yours might be. Presumable the thugs’d be upon you by then and you wouldn’t be in the best position to pay careful attention to the menu, press the correct button and spend a few minutes describing the exact nature of your emergency. 

And here’s an article that popped up this morning on a girl that tried just that. She was being attacked – raped by a stranger – and she called 999. Emergency operators apparently have the power to override the automated options if they hear suspicious sounds, but apparently ‘ the quality of the background conversation between Hannah and the driver was too indistinct to raise concerns’. This is the conversation that the operator heard and while the oversight can be understood in this specific case, I cannot understand why no one seems to be interrogating the system. A little more time spent listening to the call and Hannah Foster may not have had to die.

Is it so difficult to imagine that someone covertly calling an emergency number mayn’t be able to arrange for appropriate descriptions or clear sounds within a minute from calling?


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