Relying on phoning 000?

Submitted: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:05
ThreadID: 69245 Views:2879 Replies:15 FollowUps:26
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I know a lot of us rely on using the magic numbers, 000 (or 112 in a sat phone) in an emergency.
Thank goodness I've only had to ring them once, and that was an emergency that was easily fixed.
Sadly after a lifetime of admiration for those who work in the emergency services, a recent coronial enquiry has thrown some doubts over the usefulness of 000 in NSW for me.
I don't need to go into the details, but there were recommendations to improve data flow etc.
Can anyone comment on the current effectiveness of the service ? Have those recommendations been implemented ?
I don't want to generate unrest or ill feeling within the 4wd community.
I just want that nice fuzzy "if it all goes pear shaped I can always ring 000" feeling again.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:16

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:16
Sorry Footy

Like most of those services they work ok when there is little demand and they fall apart when there is heavy demand.

Our current inquiry over bushfires in Victoria will show widespread deficenties right across the board with ours, and I've been privy to a few nasty stories.

As always work to-wards self reliance in every field as far as is practical, and be prepared to bend the rules.

Robin Miller

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Follow Up By: tim_c - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:36

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:36
Interesting you say that Robin, it was a similar story in Canberra in 2003. Fend for yourself was pretty much the rule of the day. Thankfully, many of the people in rural areas realised this before the fateful Saturday.

Interesting how many people are saying "We were never warned" even though the news reports for at least half-a-week before were saying that Sat 7 Feb was going to be the worst bushfire conditions that Vic had ever experienced (ie. droughts, fire danger, winds, fuel loads etc.)

Getting back to the question: I wouldn't be too hopeful, especially if calling from a mobile. I've tried to call local police (from Canberra) on the 131444 number and usually get connected with Adelaide police who, understandably, have no idea of the location I'm reporting!
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Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:54

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:54
Decades ago the USA figured out how to give millions of people a warning of approaching storms - there is now a nationwide network of Weather Alert transmitters.

Why is it so hard for Australian authorities to learn from this ????

Instead of adding 20 CB channels for mindless chatter, they should reserve 4 channels for an Emergency Warning network to allow SES and CFA/RFS/CFS to warn the masses without all the arguing about phone alerting that stopped it being implemented before Black Saturday.

Broadcast station warnings are only useful when people have them turned on - people leave Weather Alert radios on permanently as they're silent except when needed for an alert.
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 09:04

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 09:04
Just had a similar situation here in Brisbane this month with local flooding.
Wasn't major, no where near as bad as 1974.
But a few people got caught, and want to know why.

All the locals who had been here any time knew. That much rain, that road closes, the creek will rise to this point. The locals knew what was going to happen when the BOM forcast heavy rain a few days out.

People just don't talk to their neighbours any more and get the local experience. And the old locals give up trying to talk about past history because the newies just drive past and don't stop for a chat.
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Reply By: Member - Andrew (QLD) - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:44

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:44
Why should one situation that may have been managed better, be the judgement criteria for the whole emergency services communication's standards?

Coronial inquests usually have a positive outcome for future actions....let's not forget that.

Andrew
AnswerID: 367047

Reply By: Louie the fly (SA) - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:55

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:55
Last year my son (then 13) had a seizure. First and only one and we didn't know what to do. We panicked because we were frightened. Our daughter grabbed the phone and rang 000. She was on the phone with them until the ambo's arrived. The person on the phone was fantastic and helped us through the experience.

It was on a blood moon night and on the way to Adelaide to the hospital the paramedic told my wife they had 300 odd more calls than usual. Sometimes they obviously have more than they normally need to cope with.

Have faith in 000

Louie
AnswerID: 367054

Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:12

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:12
I don't think any ambo takes werewolves into account when making a job application. :)) (Or the mentally unstable, the drugged out, etc etc etc).
I still dips me lid to all the ambos and boys in blue and fireies out there. I've worked with them and by golly, they're good.
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Reply By: Rangiephil - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:56

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:56
In addition to not being warned, a high minority or majority did not insure, had no independent fire fighting equipment, no safe haven,etc etc

Regards Philip A
AnswerID: 367055

Reply By: Member - Mark G Gulmarrad - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:01

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:01
Footy

i was a retained fire fighter with the NSWFB for 12 years and in that time saw a change in the 000 calling system.

in the early days when you called 000 it went to a call centre in your local area (here in Maclean it went to Lismore). the powers to be decided to change a system that worked to one that had problems.

now when you call 000, the call goes to a call centre in Newcastle.not a very good system when you are trying to explain directions to a stranger 600klm's away!!!

form the on we always had problems with directions when we were called out to an emergency.
AnswerID: 367056

Follow Up By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 09:10

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 09:10
Goes further than that now Mark.

We were the next car in line, i.e. first on scene at a road accident near Gatton a year or so ago on a Sunday. Wife rang 000 while I went to see what I could do.
She spoke to Melbourne. They had no idea where Gatton is. Had to work back from Qld, south east, so many ks from Brisbane.

But it all worked in the end, and we there was some good help turned up, all three services. Still a fatality though :o(.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark G Gulmarrad - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 09:16

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 09:16
hey John

your right about that. whats next?

call centre in india?

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Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:42

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:42
It's important to be aware that 000 callis are first answered by an Operator who asks if you want Police, Fire Brigade or Ambulance.

In the David Iredale case, all six of his calls went to the Ambulance.

If you're not happy with the response you get from one service, you can hang up and try one of the other services.

If you can get through to other numbers, it may also be worthwhile calling a relative who can then call 000 and provide additional background info e.g. Medical History which you may not have time to do if the phone battery is running low or signals are fading. I was in Barrington Tops and had no trouble getting out on Next G on saturday afternoon. On Sunday morning I could not make a call from exactly the same location.


AnswerID: 367070

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:45

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:45
In NSW if 000 connect you to Ambulance or Fire Brigade you will be answered by a Call Centre Operator who will have no local knowledge.

If you ask for the Police, you will be connected to the nearest Police Station, where there is some chance that they will know the part of the country you are trying to describe.
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Follow Up By: Gramps - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:55

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 21:55
if you can provide a street name

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FollowupID: 634754

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:04

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:04
That WAS the problem with Ambulance 000.

I know NSW Fire Brigade Call Centre and NSW Police I've worked with are quite capable of accepting various forms of reporting your position.
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FollowupID: 634756

Follow Up By: Gramps - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:10

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:10
Mike,

You need to clarify

"In NSW if 000 connect you to Ambulance or Fire Brigade you will be answered by a Call Centre Operator who will have no local knowledge."

and

"I know NSW Fire Brigade Call Centre and NSW Police I've worked with are quite capable of accepting various forms of reporting your position"

There looks to be a contradiction regarding the Fire Brigade

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FollowupID: 634759

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:26

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:26
I know that NSW Fire Brigade do not insist on a street address - they can enter this into their computer "I'm 2km North West of Cowan" - even if they have no idea where it is.

Local knowledge might then add "Are you sure, this is a Reserve that's not open to the public".

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FollowupID: 634766

Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:00

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:00
Just over a decade ago I was in between careers and took up a job in Perth as an "013 girl". You know: what number please?

We rotated through the 000 desk.

The biggest and worst factor having an influence on the quality of the response from the 000 operator (who, as stated above, only directs your call to Police, Fire or Ambulance) is that the overwhelming majority of calls are pranks, drunks or idiots.

What's the number for Pizza Hut? was very common.

An important thing to remember is that if you are ringing from a landline the operator can see where your call is coming from. If you're calling from a mobile in, say Albany in WA, you could be talking to an operator in Tasmania and there is no indication of your location. It is very very important to say: I'm in Albany in Western Australia put me through to the Police.

cheers




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AnswerID: 367073

Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:06

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:06
The technology exists (so I believe) to trace calls, and a hefty fine should be mandatory for that sort of waste of valuable operators time.
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FollowupID: 634757

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:34

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:34
Often it's from Public Phones . . . . .
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FollowupID: 634832

Follow Up By: Member - Mark G Gulmarrad - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:09

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:09
mike did

whether its from a private or public phone......if you make a prank call it CAN be traced.
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FollowupID: 634839

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:17

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:17
. . . . so are the Police going to take fingerprints off the Public Phone to see who used it to make a prank call to 000 ?
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark G Gulmarrad - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:24

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:24
mikedid

maybe not but if you were seen there you would.
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FollowupID: 634842

Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:07

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:07
For a bit of light-hearted relief . . . . .



Bazza's mate has had one or six drinks too many, falls over, grazes his face and breaks his arm.
- Bazza rings "000" who ask "where are you ".
- Bazza slurs out "It's G- G- Gaerloch Avenue, T- T- Tamarama"
- "Can you spell that for me"
- "It's G, A, . . . , no, no, it's G, E, A, no, no. Hang on a minute . . . "
- "Hello, are you still there . . . . . . . . I need you to spell that for me , all I can hear is puffing and panting"
- "Sorry for the delay, I decided to drag him around to Glen Street, Bondi"
AnswerID: 367076

Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:14

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:14
hahahaha...not Friday yet, but highly appropriate. Thanks for that.
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FollowupID: 634761

Reply By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 07:28

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 07:28
Another concern with 000 calls is that following your call the phone may be deactivated for a while in case there is a need for the service to talk to you again for more information. I thought this was an urban myth so asked a RFS person - yes, you may find yourself kept on hold in case they need to talk to you again, so your phone is blocked for a time to both incoming and outgoing calls. Not exactly what you need in an emergency situation.

John
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AnswerID: 367108

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:36

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:36
A connection will be disconnected 30 seconds after the Calling Party hangs up, even if the Called party doesn't hang up.
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Reply By: DIO - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 08:24

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 08:24
IF you have a LIFE THREATENING emergency, ring 000 and ask to be connected to the service you require. No need to have lengthy meaningless discussions on forums etc, just ring the number. As for nice fuzzy feelings, leave them until the emergency is OVER.
AnswerID: 367113

Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 08:29

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 08:29
Your post would have best been left uinsaid. It is obvious that you have either not read the responses, or chosen to ignore them entirely.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark G Gulmarrad - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 08:35

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 08:35
dio

if it is meaningless........why did you bother to enter into it?

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FollowupID: 634801

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:56

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:56
. . . . so when people post about problems with their vehicles, you'll reply "stop wasting time here, just take it in to your dealer" ???

. . . when people post about tyre advice, you'll reply "go to your tyre dealer, they're the experts" ???
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FollowupID: 634836

Reply By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 09:34

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 09:34
Footy,

The bottom line is that nothing is perfect, but in an emergency, what option do you have but to call 000?

There is always a balance between how good we want things to be and how much the taxpayer is prepared to spend on creating that system. Wouldn't it be nice to have a policeman or ambo on every corner just waiting to spring into action at the first sign of an emergency?

In ambulance, for example, workload increases about 7-10% every year. State Governments do not increased the response capability of the service by anwhere near that much each year. Consequently, people occasionally have to wait longer for service and sometimes the outcome of this isn't great. It's life and reality. Believe it or not, but ambulance is a fairly low priority in the overall health budget and resources are continually stretched further and further, just like many other industries.

It still works about 90% of the time which to the government is acceptable.

Cheers,
Mark
AnswerID: 367126

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:39

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:39
"The bottom line is that nothing is perfect, but in an emergency, what option do you have but to call 000? "

If I'm travelling to an area where there's a reasonable change of needing to call Emergency Services, I make a list of the Number and location of Police Stations and Hospitals.
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FollowupID: 634834

Follow Up By: Nargun51 - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:38

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:38
So driving around the city you have a copy of each Police Station’s phone number, its opening hours and the number of the nearby suburbs if it is closed?

Or do you mean out of the urban area?

What happens if there is another emergency at that station at the time you ring, or it only has a skeleton staff as less urgent calls at night are handled by the bigger station in the next town?

000 is not perfect, but a non centralised point of communications is not effective use of limited resources. By “jumping the queue” you are effectively reducing effectiveness of the emergency services’ ability to respond to an incident

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FollowupID: 634845

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 13:39

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 13:39
Do you know how 000 calls are connected to the Police in NSW ? The 000 Operator finds the number for the Police Station nearest to the incident and transfers the caller to that number !
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FollowupID: 634855

Follow Up By: Nargun51 - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 14:21

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 14:21
Obviously, I don’t have you’re breadth or depth of knowledge of this matter, so forgive me if I made an error from another state. After all, 000 is nationwide.

Does the 000 operator in NSW just drop an emergency call onto the police station’s line, whether it is answered or not?

If all calls are transferred to the local police station, who is responsible for coordinating what happens when the incident crosses over a number of different services or even across a number of different areas.

There is no “triage” conducted by 000? If you ask for police in an emergency, the 000 operator transfers it to the police, regardless of whether an Ambulance may be required. If the station says we can’t respond at this time, the operator doesn't transfer the call to another station?

I’ve been known to ring the local police station for non urgent matters and I will look that number up, but to me, 000 is for emergencies. It is easy to remember, easy to teach to children and can be punched into the phone in the dark or in a panic

So, can you please answer, you have all the numbers for all the police stations that you would be near during the day

Using your example, tonight when I go to pick my daughter up from training, I will need the numbers of each of the 2 police districts I may pass through and the 4 police stations I will pass (or 5 if I take a small detour to Bunnings)
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FollowupID: 634863

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 15:19

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 15:19
"Does the 000 operator in NSW just drop an emergency call onto the police station’s line, whether it is answered or not? "

- they keep going through a list until it's answered.


"If all calls are transferred to the local police station, who is responsible for coordinating what happens when the incident crosses over a number of different services or even across a number of different areas. "

- the caller decides whether cal goes to Police, Ambos or Fire.
- there are standard policies for escalating to other services


"There is no “triage” conducted by 000?"
- No, 000 Operators aren't qualified to assess the situation


" If you ask for police in an emergency, the 000 operator transfers it to the police, regardless of whether an Ambulance may be required."
- see escalation procedures above.

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FollowupID: 634872

Reply By: Mogul - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 14:06

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 14:06
If you are not in an urban area can you not give 000 GPS cordinates for your location.
AnswerID: 367156

Reply By: Member - Footloose - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 14:24

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 14:24
Nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/qld-news/police-fears-over-emergency-calls-20090527-bn4t.html
AnswerID: 367162

Reply By: Tim - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 17:20

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 17:20
In NSW, 000 calls do not go to police stations. They go to one of 2 dedicated call centers in Newcastle or Lithgow, or Sydney VKG.
Once the calls are logged onto the computer system they then get broadcast on the correct channel/district for police to attend. In the event of remote locations, a decision is made whether to recall officers to duty, get other officers from further away, to activate other resources or to leave the job til the next day.

While local details may be suitable for local resources, you have to consider that other resources such as rescue helicopters may be despatched so reasonable specific locations are required.

In the heat of the moment, everyone gets a bit panicky but remember that an extra minute to get an exact location could mean the difference of 10 minutes for a helicopter looking for you with only a vague location.

Tim
AnswerID: 367189

Reply By: curious - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 18:12

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 18:12
Footy,
In reply to your original question, the 000 service promised to implement all the coroner's recommendations. I haven't read these but I'd imagine some are easily implemented while others will take more time. My perception is that somewhat of a culture change is needed in the 000 service for some changes to be effective. For example, none of the operators who'd spoken to David Iredale, had been investigated or counselled prior to the inquiry nor had there been any internal investigation about what had happened. However the service did say that they'd alter the data screens to enable the operator to move on if a street address wasn't available. Hopefully the public scrutiny of the 000 service during the inquiry will provide some motivation for change.
AnswerID: 367199

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