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Prank calls cripple ambulance service
GUWAHATI, AUG 5 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 5 Aug. 2010 10:38 PM IST
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Prank calls are adversely affecting the Mrityunjoy 108 ambulance service in Assam with genuine callers in need of the emergency facility having to bear the brunt of the menace.
The service, with a world-class fleet of 280 ambulances, acquired from Hyderabad-based firm, GVK-EMRI, was launched two years back and has become a part of the common man’s life in the state.
To cite an example, a GVK-EMRI call centre received such a prank call at 10.31am on June 9, 2010. The male caller informed the call centre executives of an emergency pregnancy case at his house at Katigora near a LP school in Silchar and sought immediate requisition of a 108 ambulance.
When the ambulance reached the spot at 11.56am, it was found to be hoax call. There was no LP school at Katigora. The caller’s mobile phone (9577965467) was found switched off and as such the ambulance staff could not find the exact location of the former’s residence.
The ambulance personnel also inquired about any pregnancy case from Katigora at Silchar Medical College and Hospital and other private hospitals. But no such case was reported.
Chief operating officer (Assam operations) of GVK-EMRI Chandan Datta told the media here that despite requests to the public, some unscrupulous elements repeatedly make calls to the toll free number — 108 — on the pretext of an emergency. But these later turn out to be hoax or prank calls.
He said a total of 4,25,615 prank calls, 986 abusive calls, 21,332 child calls, 7,80,460 missed calls and 1,59,9340 mute calls were attended to by the call centre here at the GVK-EMRI office from November 6, 2008 to end of July 2010.
On an average, the call centre receives 10,000 to 12,000 calls daily, of which only 1,000 to 1,200 calls are found to be genuine emergency calls.
“It is practically impossible to take action against every person making such nuisance calls. We first hold counselling sessions with such callers and try to make them understand the importance of the 108 service in saving lives of those who are in need of emergency help. Sometimes, we take the help of the police to generate a sense of fear among the callers. GVK-EMRI staff have even visited the residences of some callers to advise them against making such calls,” Datta said.
The efforts of the GVK-EMRI staff, however, have not been able to make any positive impact, which is evident from the fact that the call centre has received nearly 3,000 prank calls from a caller in two years.
“We have now become used to getting such calls and thus adopted a three-tier system at the call centre to filter the calls. Most of the pranksters are found suffering to be from psychiatric problems,” Datta said.

 
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