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News : 150 Numbers 'Blocked' as Abusive Calls Flood 108
Chennai, June 2, 2014 -- The call centre attached to the ‘108’ ambulance service is perhaps one of the busiest, receiving an average of 4.5 lakh calls every month. While the service benefits thousands of people within minutes after their call, they are also forced to block phone numbers of abusive callers every month.
With 65 per cent of their calls termed ‘ineffective’, on an average 150 phone numbers are blocked because the calls were from those who either verbally abuse call-takers or repeatedly call up simply to while away time, talking to woman employees.
Officials at the GVK EMRI, which runs the project along with the State government, said that apart from the emergency calls, they regularly get calls from drunkards, children, mentally challenged, pranksters and other nuisance calls.
While calls from children and mentally challenged people were dealt with appropriately by the employees, asking them not to call back, repeated calls from drunkards who want to speak to a woman employee or abuse just about anyone on the other side of the line is taken seriously.
Officials find that people make such calls partly because ‘108’ service is a toll-free number and also that the majority of the call- takers at the centre is women.
"Once we received over 100 calls from the same man, who was drunk. Though we warned him not to call again, he kept calling back and started to get verbally abusive," a woman employee at the centre said.
While the call-takers get equal number of such abusive calls from both urban and rural areas of the State, a maximum of them are received only between 8 pm and 11 pm. However, the numbers are blocked only for a period of 60 to 90 days and are later released.
"Such abusive calls are far less than the total number we get. The blocked numbers will not be able to reach us. This is being done only to decongest our line to receive real emergency calls. But considering that even these abusive callers may need our help, we release the numbers after a few days," said an official.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, June 3, 2014