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How far will you go for "Public Service"

Rescue 911 / William Shatner / (c) CBS
The Philippines has activated its new emergency hotline 911 today. It replaced (Streetwatch) Patrol 117 and promised to follow the footsteps of Davao City's Emergency 911. Currently, the PHL-911 team has 40+ agents and can only forward calls to local PNP units but they plan to include fire and medical emergencies in the future.

"Sinasabi natin this is purely police response, meaning response to crimes and emergencies, police assistance. Saka na natin integrate 'yung sa medical, etc," said PNP Chief Dela Rosa in a press conference on Monday.

Like the old Patrol 117, calling the new 911 hotline is not free. Callers will be charged Php5.00 per call to discourage prank callers.

Tech blogger Mark Macanas or more popularly known as TechPinas tweeted a link about his experience on the "new" hotline.

I was curious if he had an emergency like fellow blogger Ms. Rosario Juan so I checked his link.

Hotline 911 In The Philippines Goes Live : I Called, Here's What I Learned

As promised by President Rodrigo Duterte during the start of his term, hotlines 911 and 8888 both officially went live at exactly 12 o'clock in the morning today, August 1, 2016.

PH Hotline 911

This noon, after I received a number of questions from my readers on what exactly the purpose of Hotline 911is - among other related concerns, I deemed it best to dial up the number (I know it's supposed to be just for emergencies but I did it for the benefit of my fellow Filipinos who are still clueless about the service) and relay the inquiries to the operator.

Here's a rough transcript of our conversation:

*after three rings*
Operator: Hello! Hotline 911. How may I help you?
TP: Hello! This is Mark of I'm calling to ask a few questions about Hotline 911. May I know who's on the line?
Operator: Hello po! This is Codename 00[2-digit number]. Yes po, what are your questions?
TP: I see. So you use codenames or code numbers pala.
Operator: Yes, sir.
TP: These are questions that I got from my readers. Here's the first one, 'When and what time did 911 go live?'
Operator: Today, sir. August 1, 2016, 12AM.
TP: Right on schedule! So how many operators are manning Hotline 911 currently?
Operator: As of today po, more than 40. But I think we are still growing.
TP: Of course, landline callers from the provinces need to add an area code to reach 911, right?
Operator: Yes, for provincial callers using landline, they need to add (02) area code.
TP: But those from the provinces who will use their cellphones to call won't have to use an area code, correct?
Operator: Yes, no need for area code for cellphone/GSM callers nationwide and landline callers in Manila.
TP: OK. What exactly is the purpose of 911?
Operator: It's for emergency cases po, especially those that require police assistance or an ambulance. Also, Pinoys can call us when there's fire in their area or if they get into road accidents, among others.
TP: When you use your Smart, Sun, or Globe number to call 911, will it be free of charge?
Operator: Can you hold for 10 seconds, sir?
TP: Alright.
Operator: *after 10 seconds* I'm sorry sir but I am not familiar with our office's deal with network operators regarding that.
TP: It's alright. Thank you so much, Codename 00[2-digit number]!

I've just tweeted both Smart Communications and Globe Telecom as regards the last inquiry. Still waiting for their reply. Stay tuned for updates!

Apparently, Php5.00 is not enough to discourage the media (or bloggers) to conduct interviews or test calls on the emergency hotline. YES. INTERVIEW AN EMERGENCY RESPONSE PERSONNEL WHILE ON DUTY.

I called him out on Twitter and told him it was irresponsible to use the hotline for an "interview." (providing screenshots as he deleted his first reply)
Several years ago, I called Patrol 117 when my grandfather had a heart attack. I gave him CPR but he was unresponsive. I was still in high school and I didn't know what to do so I called 117. The operator told me that they don't handle medical emergencies but she tried to calm me down. She asked me to stay on the line so she can lookup the emergency number of the nearest hospital that I can call. I wasn't able to call the number she gave me as it was no longer functional. My grandfather died that day.

Imagine how happy I was when this Davao-like nationwide 911 hotline was announced. Finally, an emergency number that can accept medical and fire emergency calls.

I don't know why Mark of TechPinas had to call the hotline given the fact that the PNP Chief already had a press conference earlier today. If anyone has other questions, there's the Presidential Communications Office or Philippine Information Agency for info or press releases. YOU DO NOT CALL AN EMERGENCY HOTLINE FOR INTERVIEWS. It is called an "EMERGENCY HOTLINE" because you know, EMERGENCY CALLS.

According to Rappler, the new PHL 911 hotline received 304 prank calls, 1,119 dropped calls, and 75 legitimate calls in the first 7 hours of its implementation. That's about almost 2,500 calls in 7 hours for a 40-man call center crew for the entire Philippines.
"I am also appealing to our people to refrain from making prank calls or test calls to our 911 hotline because this will clog up the lines and prevent the people with real emergencies to reach us," Dela Rosa said. (source: Philippine Information Agency)
I'm sorry but you are not doing "public service" if the operator is answering interview questions instead of responding to a real emergency. Si Bato na mismo nagsabi oh.

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