77 per cent of the ‘999’ emergency calls received by Dubai police operation room are not related to any emergency at all, said Brigadier General Omar Abdullah Al Shamsi of Dubai Police.
Dubai police received 2.044 million ‘999’ calls in 2011, but real emergency calls were only 451,834 or 22.5 per cent.
In an exclusive interview with Emirates 24|7, Brigadier Al Shamsi said the team in the police operations room often receives funny calls.
He said people with headache have called 999 for a Panadol tablet.
Some people have called to inform the police about stray animals on the road.
Some even ask the police about location of the nearest cinema and about the films being screened there.
One caller wanted the international telephone code of a foreign country!
In one case, a man called to report the theft of his car, but then called again to say that he found that his friend had borrowed the vehicle.
A person called to report the ‘loss’ of his credit card while withdrawing cash from an ATM machine.
However, Al Shamsi pointed out that such ‘emergency’ calls are received all over the world, and not just in Dubai.
He said, in the USA, a woman made an emergency call to the police for helping her sick dog. A crying and screaming girl called to report that her boyfriend had left her!
Such calls make the task of Dubai police more difficult because the force is committed to respond in 10 seconds to ‘999’ calls.
Statistics show that police patrols reach 90 per cent of the places of emergency incidents within 15 minutes and non-emergency ones within 30 minutes.
Sea-rescue patrols arrive at 90 per cent of emergency incidents within seven nautical miles in 15 minutes and more than 14 nautical miles in 30 minutes.
He said the police have repeatedly urged the public to reduce the use of the number 999 by organising several campaigns.
The central bank put brochures on ATM machines, the post office issued a postage stamp, and taxis carried brochures asking the public to use ‘999’ in emergencies only.
He appealed to members of the public to use 999 only for calls to prevent crimes, save lives and reduce economic losses.
He also said the police also receive serious calls about fires, road accidents, serious injuries, drowning and attempts to steal.
Brigadier Al Shamsi said a ‘999’ call sometimes uncovers a crime as it did when a Asian, on his way to his homeland, called the police from the airport to inform that one of his friends was fighting with his girlfriend in Fujairah.
He said his friend had beaten the woman and feared that he may have killed her. The police arrested the man who had indeed killed the woman.
Al Shamsi said the police operations room does not ignore non-emergency calls, especially humanitarian ones.
Once a father called, seeking urgent blood transfusion for his daughter.
Two employees in the police operations room had the type of blood needed and their blood donation saved the life of the girl.
In another case, a hotel refused to give a room to a GCC citizen because did not have a passport which had been withdrawn because of his involvement in a currency forgery case, though he showed the hotel a police receipt for his passport.
In this case, Dubai police contacted the Department of Tourism which helped the man to solve his problem with the hotel.
In another case, an Arab resident of Ajman called 999 to report that his car had been seized in Dubai as penalty for accumulated traffic fines and he had no money to take a taxi to Ajman.
The operations rooms arranged a taxi for him and paid his taxi fare.
In another case, a father was in need of an oxygen cylinder for his daughter with a respiratory problem.
The police’s operations room was able to find the pharmacy which had an oxygen cylinder.
Once, a European family had lost its way in the desert. The operations room contacted a government department which sent a helicopter and rescued them.
The police operations rooms also helped a person on board a ship in the sea who had suffered a heart attack.
Brigadier Al Shamsi said these incidents indicate the ability of Dubai police to respond quickly to crises and disasters.