Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
When the darkness of an emergency fades away, doctors, paramedics, police officers and Civil Defence personnel are often praised for their heroic action in saving the lives of others and providing them with the immediate assistance and help they need. But what about those who work tirelessly in the shadows, ensuring every distress call is answered within fractions of a second? Operators of the Dubai Police emergency hotline (999) play a pivotal role in comforting distress callers and connecting them to emergency service providers.
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In fact, their daily tasks revolve around providing excellent humanitarian services and, more importantly, saving people’s lives and ensuring their happiness. Engineer Major General Kamel Butti Al Suwaidi, Director of Operations at Dubai Police, says handling emergency calls is a critical humanitarian mission, as any delay in the arrival of emergency services may worsen the condition of the injured or even cause death.
“They [999 call handlers] facilitate the fast and effective response of police patrols and other emergency services arriving at the precise location of emergency scenes,” he added. Maj. Gen. Al Suwaidi explained that Dubai Police 999 operators are trained on effectively and tactfully handling all calls to the Command and Control Centre and quickly transferring to the radio dispatcher.
“The Command and Control Centre plays a critical role as it places the Force’s capabilities in the right place at the right time and enhances the speed of response to emergencies, which is one of the most important performance indicators of the Dubai Police,” he continued. Maj. Gen. Al Suwaidi noted that the Centre utilises the latest technologies and AI-backed systems such as the smart security prediction system and big data analysis to redistribute patrols and focus on areas where emergency reports abound.
Accumulated experience Colonel Turki Bin Faris, Director of the Command and Control Centre, said they received more than five million calls last year and achieved a rate of 99.6%. He further explained that each operator handles an average of 100-400 emergency calls a day. Major Muhammad Aziz, Head of Shifts in the Command and Control Centre, said they once received a call in the middle of the night from a man whose wife had left the house because of a family argument.
He added that the caller was extremely worried and did not know his wife’s whereabouts and tried to call her several times, but she would not answer him. “We called the wife and calmed her down, so she returned home to her husband and children. The argument was eventually resolved, and the family were grateful for the Dubai Police General Command,” Aziz said. Scared child Sergeant Ismail Al Saadi said that a child called the emergency number stating that he was alone at home and expressed his concern because his mother was late.
He noted that the scared boy did not have enough credit to call his mother and asked Dubai Police’s help to check on her. “We immediately contacted the mother, who in turn, called her son and checked on him, and thanked Dubai Police for this kind gesture,” Al Saadi said. Preventing suicide Corporal Ahmad Muhammad Salem, who has been working in the Command and Control Centre Department for 15 years, said that one of the reports he remembers well is a distress call reporting an Asian attempting suicide.
“It was extremely difficult to negotiate with him at first. However, we gradually managed to calm him down and find a solution to the family dispute that was behind the attempt,” Salem continued. Sharp security senses Dubai Police (999) operators once received a call from a woman of Asian nationality; however, someone seemed to have grabbed her phone and disconnected the call before she could express her concern. Dubai Police emergency officers immediately called the woman back, but a man replied and stated that everything was fine.
Nevertheless, the operator insisted on speaking to the woman to ensure that she was not subjected to any harm or abuse. Consequently, the man handed the phone to another woman who pretended to be the caller and claimed everything was fine. The cheap trick did not fool the smart policeman who noticed the slight change in the tone of voice.
He rather insisted on speaking to the actual caller and was eventually connected to the distressed woman. Eventually, a police patrol was dispatched to the woman’s house and took action accordingly. It became clear that there was a family dispute between the caller and her husband in the presence of the family’s friends.