News : 80% of 117 Call-Centre Calls are Prank
Freetown, Sierra Leone, April 7, 2015 -- April Fools Day comes way before 1st April for operators at 117 Call-Centre, since they experience an avalanche of prank calls on a daily basis.
A recent analysis conducted by the centre revealed that 80% of the calls received by the call-centre are false alarms.
"Up to recently we are having over 80% of our calls being prank," said Reynold Senesie, Manager of the call-centre, during an interview with Awoko newspaper at his Connaught Hospital office.
As operator’s standby waiting to save lives, prank callers are having a field day "giving us false alert."
"Surveillance officers often go to these addresses only for them to be informed by residents that they didn’t call 117," Reynold explained.
He revealed an instance wherein "a burial team went to a house and a resident was yelling ‘we don’t have any corpse here! I bind that in Jesus name! Why are you coming here?’ "
To a large extent these calls are responsible for waste of time and resources. "We have to waste precious time and resources chasing illusive cases, and this is not helping our response," the manager maintained.
Nevertheless, "[though] we are concerned about prank calls, we are also cautious in our approach in dealing with it."
"We don’t want to send a message of fear that prank callers would be arrested, these might deter genuine callers from calling, since they might be afraid of being prosecuted. That’s why we try to manage the situation as best as possible. [More over] toll free line [is relatively new to the country] that’s why it’s been abused, however, we tend to show some form of understanding" Reynold pointed out.
Explaining the functions of the call-centre, he said that the Centre receives calls from all over the country. "We have our operators who receive these calls and get details from the callers, such as the name of the district, the chiefdom and so forth. We have the dispatch team that will relay these various cases to the command Centre’s of the district who will then assign the various teams responsible to take appropriate action."
Also, he pointed out, "the monitoring team within the call centre does quality controls and checks if there are details missing from caller’s information; while the call back team call most of the callers to get feedback about service response, speed and quality."
Prior to the ebola outbreak the available number of ambulances to provide healthcare services for the whole country left much to be desired.
Nonetheless, "117 has been operating before the outbreak of ebola in Sierra Leone, it was part of the Free Health Care initiative just so that people would call and monitor about the cases within," Reynold averred.
Presently, the ‘117 call-centre’ receive calls relating to all kinds of emergencies ranging from "fire accident to street fight."
The call-centre manager stressed that receiving all of these calls is very challenging, since the main focus is now on ebola.
"We want to kick ebola out and then think of what to do with the line. Somehow we’ve been trying to put structures in place to make sure that we respond to the needs of the public more adequately. We’ve got all the contacts of the various sectors in our country, thus doing our best in channelling some of these information or messages," he ascertained.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, April 8, 2015