News : Fake Calls, Love Talk Burden 108 Call Centre Staff
Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India, Jan 19, 2015 -- The 108 ambulance facility handles over 1,000 callers a day - many of them nuisance calls. Tipsy men send along abuse in free flow; teenaged boys seek recharge of their mobile phones. Women call to talk of their loveless lives. The staff now list these nuisance callers - each month, about 300 numbers are listed and blocked for 15 days.
There are 33 tele-callers dealing with calls related to the 108 service, 21 of them girls. "There are callers who dial our number and start abusing us. Often, it's not just us they want to abuse - the state of the roads, neighbours, everything under the sun is open to abuse. We are forced to just hang up," said Puja Maurya, who works at the call centre.
Once the caller gets to know his number is blocked, he is less likely to persist in trying to get through. In vacation time and during holidays, the number of nuisance calls spikes substantially. This January, 150 cell phone numbers have been blocked. "Anyone who calls at least 20 times for no rhyme or reason gets on the 'hotlist'," an employee of the call centre said.
There are callers seeking a shoulder to cry on - a woman in distress, for example, looking for a patient ear to hear out a story about the cheating husband. "I have spoken to many such women who call just to have someone to vent to. I feel bad, and we sometimes offer such callers the women helpline number. But there are some who will keep calling until their number is blocked," said a girl at the call centre.
The ambulance service was launched in 2008. From the start, it has had several callers who faced no emergency at all.
"Some call just for fun, or to befriend girls attending the call. There was one woman from Haldwani who would call and talk long about her loveless life," said Manish Kainth, the call centre's manager.
The tele-callers are trained in how to handle hoax calls. "If there is a suspicion that the caller has randomly dialled 108, we first ask them their own numbers. Most hoax callers do not tell us their correct number - we get the number displayed on our computer screens, so we can tell soon as we hear someone lying at the other end," said Puja Bhatt, 23, who joined the call centre a few months back.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2015