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News : 24x7 Ambulance Service Receives 81,000 Hoax Calls
Pune, April 10, 2014 -- The Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services (MEMS) was launched on January 26 this year to provide 24X7 emergency ambulance facility across the state. The service providers, however, are struggling to deal with hoax calls, which amount to 20% of the total calls received so far.
The MEMS's toll free number has received a whopping 81,000 hoax calls in the last two months. Such callers either abuse call centre operators or play pranks by giving false information.
To put a check on the nuisance, the state health department has decided to educate people and initiate action against incorrigible offenders. "The MEMS has received 4.13 lakh calls so far. Of them, a total 81,000 were hoax and prank calls. Such calls are a hindrance because time is a key factor when it comes to saving lives where someone may be genuinely in need of emergency medical help," said Dnyaneshwar Shelke, chief operating officer of MEMS.
Shelke said that two types of callers trouble them. "There are some who engage women call centre operators in lewd talks. They become abusive when our operators refuse to entertain them. The other type of callers cook up stories of road accidents or bus collusion. When the ambulance reaches the spot, they find nothing."
Swapnil Chougule, administrative officer of MEMS, said, "In about 19% hoax calls, ambulances returned finding no emergency. The toll free number is the first point of contact for all kinds of medical and non-medical emergencies. Hence people are requested not to waste our time. Our personnel also encountered situations where people called on the helpline number but refused to get in the ambulance when the vehicle arrived."
The call centre, Emergency Response Centre (ERC), has been developed at Aundh Chest Hospital in Pune
Satish Pawar, director of state health department, said, "The number of unwanted calls is huge. Hence, we have decided to launch mass education programmes through TV and newspapers ads. Instead, they should help us render the service more effectively. The MEMS's computerised system is equipped to identify repeat callers. In extreme cases, we will have to seek police help and initiate action."
The 24X7 ambulance service has already covered 60% of the state. The rest of the state will be served by the end of May, said Pawar.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services:
Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services (MEMS) project under National Health Mission provides pre-hospital health services to patients through life support ambulances to nearby hospitals for further treatment.
Published: Friday, April 11, 2014