Monday, 30 July 2012

Emergency call-takers and dispatchers to be trained professionally

PETALING JAYA: Call-takers and dispatchers of the 999 emergency line will be trained professionally and certified accordingly to follow the highest standards of handling crisis calls.

Malaysia Emergency Response Services (MERS) 999 is set to emulate the benchmarks of 911, the national emergency number in the United States.

A government-backed body will be set up to ensure that operators at MERS 999 answer emergency calls within 20 seconds, 10 seconds faster than the current response time.

“We decided to implement this in line with the Government Transformation Programme to institute the best practices in handling emergency calls,” said Information, Communications and Culture Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf.

He said a vital part of the training would be to ensure that call-takers have good soft skills over the phone.

The MERS 999 system is a Federal Government project, which includes four emergency service providers the police, fire department, hospital and civil defence.

It is under the purview of several ministries, including the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry and Housing and Local Government Ministry.

Kamaruddin said the proposed government agency would oversee the creation of a Public Safety Profession for call-takers and dispatchers in Malaysia.

A call-taker is an assigned person with sufficient training to handle emergency calls while a dispatcher is responsible for receiving emergency information from the call-taker and dispatching resources to the scene of the incident.

Presently, MERS 999 call workers do not have any structured training based on the highest standards of public safety.

“The current three call centres in Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and Kuching are enough to handle more than two million calls a month,” Kamaruddin said.

He said the number of crank calls to 999 had dropped from 21% of the total 14 million calls received in 2009 to 14% of 18 million calls last year.

This means crank calls have been reduced from 2.95 million calls in 2009 to 2.5 million calls last year.

“Crank callers currently make up 12% of total calls, with about 75% of them being children. Another 22% of crank callers are men while the remaining 3% are women,” he said.

“The decrease is the result of ongoing efforts to issue warning letters to callers who used fixed lines. We have also called them back to advise them not to make such calls,” Kamaruddin said.

However, he said “silent calls” had increased from 40% of total calls in 2009 to 62% presently.

The emergency number 999 has replaced the 991, 994 and 112 lines since October 2007. The 994 emergency number used by the Fire and Rescue Department was discontinued on April 1.
Source : Click


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