While the 999 emergency number is an amazing service, no one wants to be in a position where they are required to call it. Unfortunately, many of us will have to call 999 (or 112) at some point in our lives. But how can you alert those taking the call that you require assistance if you’re in a situation where you can’t talk?
The emergency services have previously announced that they won’t automatically investigate calls if they can’t hear anything on the other side. This is to save the already over-stretched services responding to pocket calls and pranks.
However, to ensure that people requiring assistance – but who are unable to talk – receive help, there are two solutions in place. Very few people know about these potentially life-saving features.
In both situations, operators may attempt to communicate with a person making silent call by asking them to tap on their receiver or mobile phone screen. For example, one tap for “no”, two taps for “yes”.
It’s important to remember that emergency service operators will not automatically know your location. Though they can track landline calls to an address, mobile calls are only typically traceable to a grid reference. A more expensive procedure can trace a mobile phone to a few metres, so, in a genuine emergency, the operator will need to be able to ascertain that you are in real danger – either by hearing suspicious noises or via “silent” communication such as tapping.
Since 2014, smartphones which have WiFi or GPS based location switched on will send an emergency SMS that will inform the operator of your location while the call is in progress.
To date, Silent Solutions has had some successful results, including a Kensington woman who made a silent 999 call when she was attacked in her home, leading the police to trace her call and capture her assailant. Still, if more people knew about Silent Solutions, there would likely be many more successes.
999 is an incredible service. And features like Silent Solutions are well worth knowing about – they may even save your life. Raise awareness by sharing this article with your friends and family.
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