Friday, March 24, 2017

Contacting Emergency Services when you cannot speak

There are a number of circumstances when someone may need to call emergency services but not be able to speak.

The example which was  publicised in a Metro article this week was the situation where a caller is being held hostage by someone who does not realise that they have access to a telephone, of if the caller does not want to give away his or her location to a terrorist or other criminal.

It is also possible, however, that you might have had a fall, accident or attack of illness which rendered you unable to speak - an injury to the throat can do this, or if you are choking - but not unable to push the buttons on a phone.

If that is your situation, there is a means of letting the operator know that it is a genuine emergency call and not just a case of a mobile phone in someone's pocket being pressed by random movement and causing an accidental call to be made.

When you call 999, an operator asks which emergency service you require before rerouting the call to the police, ambulance service or fire brigade.

If a 999 caller doesn’t talk, the operator will ask them to cough or make another audible sound.

If you physically cannot make a noise or if it is not safe to do so – for example, if it could alert a potential attacker to your exact whereabouts - there’s a simple way of signalling that it’s a genuine emergency and you haven’t just accidentally pocket-dialled.

You simply dial 55.

The procedure is called Silent Solutions and it was created so people in an emergency can call the police in dangerous situations.

After you dial 999 and you’ve been unable to audibly signal to the operator, your call will be forwarded to an operating system. If you’re in danger, dial 55 otherwise the call will be terminated.

The ‘55’ Silent Solution protocol has been in place for over a decade, although police have recently issued a reminder as not many people know about the protocol.

A police spokesman told Metro:

‘Please do not think that just because you dial 999 that police will attend.

‘We totally understand that sometimes people are unable or too afraid to talk, however it must be clear that we will not routinely attend a silent 999 call.

‘There must be some indication that the call has not been misdialled.’

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