New caller system improves response time

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Wellington, July 9, 2017

The new caller location system for 111 mobile phone calls has already made a significant impact in the two months it has been up and running, Police Minister Paula Bennett, Communications Minister Simon Bridges and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne have said.

The following is their statement issued today:

The system automatically provides emergency services with the probable location of a caller when they dial 111 from a mobile phone, enabling police, fire and ambulance services to respond more quickly.

Identifying unknown location

The new system has been vital in helping to identify the location of callers in instances where the caller hasn’t been able to speak, where the call has been cut-off before the operator could get more information about the caller’s location or where the caller does not know their exact whereabouts.

The system has been used to get help to an injured person on a farm, a motorcycle crash victim, people who are distressed or potentially suicidal, people experiencing family violence, a person who had spotted a fire in a rural area, and people experiencing medical emergencies.

It is great to hear how the system is helping emergency service providers improve public safety. This solution sees New Zealand leading the way in emergency response systems, alongside the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Since the system was introduced, more than 145,000 genuine 111 calls have been made to emergency services and around 20 per cent of these calls involved operators using the system to help them get more accurate information about a caller’s location.

Critical tool

While the new system provides a critical tool to help identify the probable location of 111 callers from mobile phones, it’s still important for callers to tell emergency services operators where they are.

This is a system that people may need to rely on in times of need, so I’m incredibly proud that it’s already making a demonstrable impact. In some cases, the system has been identified as critical to preventing a fatal incident, or preventing an incident from escalating further.

We acknowledge the organisations involved including the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Emergency Service Providers (New Zealand Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, St John and Wellington Free Ambulance), Mobile Network Operators (Spark, 2degrees Mobile Limited and Vodafone), Datacom and Google.

It is a fantastic example of the public and private sectors working together to better serve New Zealanders.

Ten examples of where the Emergency Caller- Location Information system has made a difference:

Distressed woman

New Zealand Police received a 111 ‘hang-up’ call from a distressed woman. The call was disconnected before she could provide her location. Using the system, Police were able to identify her location and respond accordingly. The woman had been involved in a family harm incident, and Police were able to take the appropriate action.

Lost group

A group tramping in the Bay of Plenty had become lost. One member of the group was injured and they had no food or water. They made a call to 111 from their mobile phone (which had a low battery). The call taker used the system to identify their location down to a six-metre radius. Police Search & Rescue were dispatched and the group was safely walked out of the bush a couple of hours later. Previously the group might have spent the night in the bush before Search & Rescue could be engaged.

Suicidal Caller

New Zealand Police received a call from a person who was having suicidal thoughts. The person let the operator know they were at a railway station, but hung up before the operator could get more information about their location. After establishing there was an immediate risk to the person’s safety, the call taker used the system to identify their location. The caller was identified as being on the train tracks, within a four-metre radius. Having this information meant the call was given high priority for a response, with Police dispatched to locate the person safely. The call taker was also able to notify train control to alert them to the issue.

Overdose of pills

NZ Police and St John Ambulance were advised that a woman had taken an overdose of pills following an argument with her family. She’d left the family home, and her location was unknown. The woman subsequently called St John Ambulance, and the system was used to identify her location. St John Ambulance staff were immediately dispatched to help and she received medical treatment.

Fire and Emergency

Fire and Emergency New Zealand received a call from a man who had seen a fire while he was driving along a rural highway. The caller didn’t know where he was on the highway. Using the system, Fire and Emergency New Zealand were able to locate the caller and the fire, and dispatch crew to put the fire out.

Wellington incident

Wellington Free Ambulance received a call from someone who had been involved in a motor vehicle accident on a farm. The person was moderately injured and did not know their exact location, but explained they were around 60 minutes’ drive from the nearest road. Using the system, Wellington Free Ambulance were able to identify the location of the caller and send this information to the responding helicopter. This enabled an accurate and swift response, and Wellington Free Ambulance staff were able to provide the assistance needed.

Heart patient

Wellington Free Ambulance received a call from a person who advised the operator that his heart was racing before hanging up. The operator tried to call the person back but there was no answer. Using the system, the operator was able to identify the man’s location and the Wellington Free Ambulance crew could be immediately dispatched to provide help to the man, who was rushed to hospital.

Man on the Road

Wellington Free Ambulance received a call from a man who had woken up on the side of the road, with no idea where he was or what had happened. The man had a history of seizures, and had been driving from Bulls to Whanganui. The only details he could provide about his location was that he was in a farmland area and that there were no houses or road signs. Wellington Free Ambulance used the system to identify the man’s location and to get him the help he needed.

Stranded woman

St John Ambulance received a call from a woman who was not local to Hamilton, where she was calling from. She was with a group of people and they had found a girl on the river bank who had fallen and was in and out of consciousness. The only detail she could provide about her location was that she was near some public toilets, near a river. Using the system, and with some help from the caller to identify other details in the area – including the street she was on and a nearby park, St John Ambulance were able to identify her location and where the ambulance should meet her. The system played a critical role in helping St John Ambulance locate the caller without delay, and the patient was provided the care she required.

Ambulance call

St John Ambulance received a call from a man who was in the forest with a friend, who needed urgent medical attention. They were a few kilometres away from the nearest road and across a lake, and were positioned under a canopy that would have been hard to spot from the air. Using the system, St John Ambulance were able to identify their location for a helicopter. A crew member was winched down to help the patient, who was taken to hospital. Without the system the helicopter could have been circulating for a long time trying to find the pair.

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