After the fire services, now it is the turn of the 108 emergency helplines to receive hoax calls from pranksters in the city. On an average, the helpline receives 18,000 calls daily of which more than 10,000 are said to be nuisance calls.
Due to this, GVKEMRI officials are seriously considering seeking police assistance to identify these pranksters and take action against them. Among the pranksters, 30 per cent are children, said officials from the helpline.
As of now, the helpline officers track frequent callers based on information displayed on their computer. “We plan to seek police assistance to take action on these pranksters,” Jagadish Patil, Operations Head for the State, GVK-EMRI told Express. “Such calls come mostly during weekends that too from children. They dial this telephone number just out of curiosity,” said S S Perveez, Head-Quality and Marketing, GVK-EMRI.
He added that sometimes children just hang up without saying anything. Since 108 is toll-free number, mischief-mongers are tempted to call and play pranks, observed Perveez. Maximum calls come between 9 am and 7 pm, he added.
Unrelenting callers who do not have enough information about the utility of 108 also make such calls. “People call in to inquire about telephone and gas connections or to tease or talk to people of the opposite gender,” observed Perveez.
Response teams have as many as 30 officers handling calls at any given point. When customer officers identify a call is from a prankster, they finish the call in less than eight seconds.
“When the caller is unrelenting, they transfer the line to dispatch officers who seek more details about the emergency and when the call is just a prank, it is easy for the officers to find out because pranksters get irritated with the interrogation,” said Patil. If the callers still don’t budge, they are transferred to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) message which discourages them further, he added.