Others have single emergency number, Turkey has 35

April 06, 2010, Tuesday/ 18:07:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Turkey has a staggering 35 different official emergency hotlines, which can leave citizens confused about who to call in urgent situations, Mete Kalyoncu, the head of the Konya branch of the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers, has said.

In a written statement issued this week, Kalyoncu noted that emergency hotlines were supposed to be a source of help during life-threatening situations and other emergencies. In most developed nations there is a single emergency hotline to reach police, medical authorities and firefighters -- 999 in Hong Kong, 112 in European Union countries such as France and Germany and 911 in Canada and the United States. In Turkey, however, there are 35 different hotlines, including 155 for the police, 156 for the gendarmerie, 112 for an ambulance, 184 for medical consultation, 110 for fires, 153 for the municipal police, 158 for the coast guard and 177 for forest fires.

“For emergences, you just need to call 999 in Sudan, Uganda or Bangladesh, 117 in the Philippines and 118 in Nicaragua. While there is a single emergency number in those nations and in the developed nations of the EU and in the US and Canada, in Turkey there are 35 emergency lines. Police, medical assistance, fires -- good luck to anyone who can memorize them all,” he criticized. Kalyoncu said the proliferation of these numbers was an injustice to society and recalled that the purpose of such hotlines is to put people in touch -- and quickly -- with the appropriate bodies during emergency situations.

“In a moment of shock during an emergency or extraordinary situation, how is a person supposed to remember these numbers and get help? Even if the person going to make the call is a passerby, their shock may be so great that it’d be difficult to recall all the emergency numbers. You don’t have to be a clairvoyant to see that this will be a problem for many people in such situations; and as if that’s not enough, many of the emergency numbers are very similar to one another. Measures should be taken immediately to save our country and our citizens from this situation. We’re living in the communications age -- this situation should be resolved at once and the necessary infrastructural investments need to be made so that any technical issues blocking the redress of this situation are done away with,” Kalyoncu recommended.

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