Dubai: The emergency number 999 received over 1.5 million non-emergency calls last year, significantly weighing down Dubai Police emergency services, officials have said.
Only less than a quarter of the calls to 999 were actual emergencies, forcing the authorities to raise the alarm.
In response, Dubai Police yesterday launched an awareness campaign to popularise its recently launched non-emergency hotline 901.
"Close to two million calls were received to 999 in 2010, but only 455,048 were actual emergencies while the rest of them were mostly queries," Major General Jasem Mohammad Bel Rumaitha, director of the general department of operations at Dubai Police said.
"This puts tremendous pressure on emergency services as it slows down our response time to help people who are in real need of help. Someone could lose their life if you are unnecessarily calling 999, taking up valuable time. Call 901 instead if it is a non-emergency situation," he said.
People even call 999 for road directions or to know how to pay traffic fines or get conduct certificates and a myriad of other queries, he said.
The number 999 is meant for real emergencies such as serious car accidents, fire, medical emergencies such as heart attacks, or if someone has witnessed a crime or if they feel they are in a dangerous situation, he added.
In a bid to divert the massive number of non-emergency calls to another number police launched a 24 hour hotline 901 last November. However, the hotline has received a cold response from residents, with only 10,000 calls so far.
"Before you dial 999, think whether the reason you are calling is a real emergency or not. That's all we request," Colonel Omar Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, director of the command and control centre said. The campaign to raise awareness about 901 runs until March 3.
Non-emergencies: Call 901 in Dubai
- For traffic inquiries, enquiries about obtaining criminal record certificate (good conduct certificate) and loss of certificate; about obtaining burial permission or corpse transfer certificate; about subscribing to house security surveillance programme or sailing pre-notification systems and alarm system or heart patients service.
- For complaints or suggestions
- To obtain general information about address, location and phone numbers of Dubai police departments and police stations.
- To know about Dubai police events.
Total number of calls to 999 - 1,979,878
Non-emergency calls, mostly queries - 1,524,830
Actual emergencies - 455,048
77.02 per cent of calls to 999 were non-emergency calls
22.98 per cent of calls were emergencies
Total number of calls to 999 - 2,282,601
Non-emergency calls, mostly queries - 1,794,553
Actual emergencies - 488,048
78.62 per cent of calls to 999 were non-emergency calls
21.38 per cent of calls were emergencies
Do you know who to call to report non emergency cases? Is lack of knowledge the reason for people using wrong emergency numbers?