India is set to have a single response number for emergencies such as fire, ambulance and police calls, on the lines of the ‘911’ emergency number in the US and ‘112’ across most European Union countries.
The new system would replace the current multiple emergency and communication response systems.
According to recent discussions between government authorities, the new single emergency response system would include services to ascertain the location of a caller, with an accuracy of 50-100 metres.
The location details would be made available by telecom service providers on a real-time basis.
The emergency response centres would function under police commissioners or district magistrates.
The toll-free number can be dialled from both mobiles and landlines; one can also send SMSes to this number.
The emergency response centre would have a number of operators in a call centre, with separate enclosures or rooms for police response, medical response, fire response and other allied services. A public service answering point would be set up for the response system.
This would serve as a one-stop shop for all emergency calls.
In case of an emergency call, it would be answered by a specially trained despatcher, who would facilitate an appropriate response mechanism.
Currently, India uses several emergency numbers such as 100 (police), 101 (fire), 102 (ambulance) and 108 (emergency disaster management).
A number of states have also notified various helpline numbers such as 181 woman in distress 181 (Delhi), missing children and women 1094 (Delhi), crime against women (1096 in Delhi), anti-extortion (1097 in Delhi).
According to the new proposal, the capital expenditure for setting up the emergency response centre would be met from the scheme to modernise police forces, while recurring costs such as salaries of staff would be provided from funds available under the National Rural Health Mission.
Expenditure on fire tenders would be met through Ministry of Home Affairs’ scheme to modernise and augment fire services.