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911 Number In the Works

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For most of the Philippines, the emergency hotline is 117. There are some exceptions, like Davao, which does use 911, but mostly, it’s 117. They are apparently working on switching to 911 for the whole country.

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Davao 911 Ambulance – All Services are FREE

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I think this would be a very good change, especially if they also change some other things with how the system works now. I think that since 911 is pretty much universally recognized and easy to remember. A simple change like this could save lives. Just imagine if a foreigner or even a local who didn’t know that 117 was the emergency number here. In Davao, as far as I’ve heard, the 911 service is very good, a lot of people say it’s quick, efficient and free. Maybe Davao could set the precedent for the rest of the nation.

From what I’ve read, the current 117 system isn’t that good. First off, there’s only 1 center that receives calls and redirects them where needed, which is very inefficient. This could also potentially cause a lot of misunderstandings because of all the dialects and such, when I went to Manila, pretty much everyone couldn’t understand Bisaya, so I really do see this as being an issue.  Next, some people say you can only use it if you have load, which you might not always have. Here in Davao all cellphone providers are required to give free 911 call service.  People also say that some cities have numbers for their emergency services in conjunction with the 117 number, and these numbers can sometimes be long and hard to memorize.

In addition to the 911 number, there’s also an app that’s gonna be launched to help connect with emergency services (man there’s an app for everything). It seems very interesting and could speed up the process of getting help wherever needed. One thing I hope is that they don’t put ads in it like a lot of apps now. It would suck to be trying to get emergency services and suddenly you press an ad.

I’m hoping that they’ll fix a few of the issues pointed out above. Having more operator centers around the country would help with misunderstandings because of dialects, and having the app might also help depending on how it works. Cities wouldn’t need their own emergency hotlines, but if they did, you should still be able to use 911.

I’m certain prank callers will be an issue since, and I’m not sure how they would go about addressing it. Maybe having a 3 strike system for the numbers, where if a certain number prank calls 3 times, then they’re blacklisted. Given how cheap new numbers are though, it would be easy to bypass. I don’t really get people who prank call 911, it’s stupid and selfish. The whole system is based around getting help to people who need it as fast as possible, people could die because of a few minutes of delay, but some people think it’s cool to prank call 911. Also, people have to be educated on the do’s and don’ts of the app and the system in general. It would make it easier and more efficient that way.

I’m curious about the app and wanna see how good it is and where it goes. As for the change to 911, I think it’s a major improvement even though it seems like a small change. Like I said above, it could save lives.

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AJ Martin

Aaron Martin, also called "AJ," is the son of Bob & Feyma Martin. Aaron is a graduate at Ateneo de Davao University High School in Davao City, Philippines. Aaron was born in the USA, but has lived in the Philippines since age 3.

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MindanaoBobMrAverage888Tata BertoRustyFrank Woolf Recent comment authors
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Chasrand
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Chasrand

Hi AJ,
Yeah, a national 911 number is a good Idea.
Hopefully they will improve the Ambulance service in some of the provinces too.

In the past, even getting an Ambulance in the rural provinces was very hit and miss, you paid for it too. Many in that situation would get a neighbour with a van to ferry them to Hospital, (DIY).

SteveB
Guest
SteveB

Yes 911 service would be a great step forward. A P5,000 fine for false or prank calls might be the solution to the prank call issue.

Lorne Rowe
Guest

Good to know about the 117 number I didn’t know that , I was wondering about the way ambulances get around in the larger cities like Cebu I seen them getting stuck in traffic when it’s gridlock , I asked my wife if there was an ambulance service on motorcycles that could get to accidents more quickly , she said no , I seen them in some European cities , just wondering if that’s ever been a concern for local government

Tata Berto
Guest
Tata Berto

Great Idea!
A first responder on a motorcycle to administer life saving procedures before the ambulance arrive.
Nice!

PapaDuck
Guest
PapaDuck

AJ,

Criminal charges is more in line with prank callers like in the US.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Just out of curiosity, how would you catch the person making the call? With the Prepaid SIMs here, you could go buy a dozen SIM packs for $10 or so and throw it away after each time you make a prank call. How could they catch you?

Russell Cunning
Guest
Russell Cunning

Hi AJ, Another good article – as usual! Yes, having one universal number seems so obvious, yet the obvious is sometimes so elusive. Having all calls routed to a local emergency centre (or center) would be a much better idea than one central place. Your observations about the language differences is right on target. I spent two weeks in a village in Negros Occidental, and many people there didn’t even understand ‘Kumusta’. Sadly there is no universal number for emergency calls. 911 is very well known, but more due to the ‘magic’ of TV and Hollywood than by design. In… Read more »

Arthur Netteler
Guest

Who’s idea was this COLOSSAL WASTE OF MONEY??? This will not be effect at all in ANY KIND of true Emergency. Just stuck in TRAFFIC somewhere or worse! How would you EVER navigate around and through ANY kind of Disaster Scene with this ELEPHANT! What this was purchased for was to allow Officials to have TV and Photo Ops. They have an entire FLEET of ready to go REGULAR Ambulances (over 50) SITTING up by Clark for OVER A YEAR NOW. And they waste the Peoples money on this kind of HEADLINE NEWS ITEM??…lol

John Wallace
Guest

Arthur the article is about 911. Your off topic to rant and rave. Try to stick to the topic at hand. Duh!

Arthur Netteler
Guest

My Company “Nu-Way Electronics” in the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, installed and setup 12- MoCom 911 And Rockford 911 Division Centers in the Midwest & Mississippi Valley regions on the USA. At our peek we had 90 Public Safety Departments and Communications Systems under Contract. The People here are buying Expensive Equipment and Show-Boating before they even have a FUNCTIONG SYSTEM of Communications. They can not even get Cell Service to be 90% in MOST of this little Country.

Russell Cunning
Guest
Russell Cunning

After reading all of your rants, I can only say that your claims might be more believable if you could spell and knew where to use (and to not use) capitalization in sentences. Literacy (and lack thereof) is a very good indication of education levels.

Bob Martin
Guest

It is not a waste. We have excellent 911 services here in Davao. It is very good and efficient.

John Wallace
Guest

Bob as you know I am direct and to the point. It is better to be prepared than have nothing in place to help those in need. 911 services is a must in a country which has a lot of crime. These services might even deter crime so it’s a good investment for the future of this nation. Simple and direct!

Arthur Netteler
Guest

Bob, Davao is but one speck on the map of the Philippines. At the rate their spending and moving… It will bankrupt the Philippines before they get half way across Mindanao. Here in the Metro it took 45 minutes for the first FireTruck to arrive on a 6 house fire. And they had no water or hose to reach the closest hydrant 300+ YARDS AWAY! 23 houses burnt. And they called it a successful RESPONSE! Well ya.. they did save the Concrete street (that the trucks would NOT FIT DOWN)!

Arthur Netteler
Guest

And I have been on BOTH SIDES!!!

Bob Martin
Guest

I wish there was a thumbs down button Arthur just wait many changes are coming. Even for the traffic.

PapaDuck
Guest
PapaDuck

I hope President Duterte has an answer for the traffic. Infrastructure will also have an effect on the 911 service.

Bob Martin
Guest

You are right on the mark John Wallace!

John Wallace
Guest

Buildings that are made of dry wood are always hard to save Arthur. Some of the construction is practically handed to fire because they cook indoors close to wooden structures. You blame a service when people neglect safety. Maybe you’re not look at the cause of these fires properly.

John Wallace
Guest

I see it here all the time where people set fire to their own places by neglect. When this happens you don’t blame the protection service, you blame the idiots that started the fire. Come on!

Arthur Netteler
Guest

John Wallace … The People here will NEVER CHANGE the way the live. We have neighbors that live near us in P12M homes that cook on wood & charcoal for every meal.

Arthur Netteler
Guest

We have 2 times a week Trash pickup by the City. And they burn trash every morning and every evening righ in the street.

John Wallace
Guest

Arthur Netteler yes but if they set fire to their place who is to blame? “The Fire Department”. Come on!

Arthur Netteler
Guest

John Wallace … Man your out in left field with that one. We are talking about responding to the Call. And the People that will not change a thing in their Life. No service on earth will protect people that burn wood in the back porch of a P10-12M HOME… Geesss!

John Wallace
Guest

If people set their houses on fire you blame the services which are in place. I don’t think so. You blame the ones that set the fire and charge them with neglect. Simple.
There are ways of doing thing and it seems sometimes the people should know better but when you don’t use common sense what’s the point of blaming the services.

Arthur Netteler
Guest

John Wallace … Let me know the time you decide to CHARGE one of these People. We will fly down and watch that 1

John Wallace
Guest

Your very arrogant. That is for sure. You treat a blog as if it was a pissing contest. Did you notice that?

Arthur Netteler
Guest

John Wallace … Well I was wondering when you would get to name calling??…hehe

John Wallace
Guest

Arrogant is name calling. Wow! It seem to be a fact bud!

John Wallace
Guest

Here’s a question. If the Philippines is so bad, why even live here? You complain about services and taxes being wasted. Why even stay here? That’s a normal question without any sarcasm.

Arthur Netteler
Guest

John Wallace … I am a citizen SIr… Do you MIND if I live here?

John Wallace
Guest

Your a citizen! Than you might be the wife of Arthur then!

John Wallace
Guest

You’re surely not Arthur!

John Wallace
Guest

I have 25 years of practice behind me as a psychiatrist working with the authorities in Canada and what you brought here to this blog was complaints and blaming government services. You haven’t contributed nothing positive. Do you realize that?

Arthur Netteler
Guest

This is now silly

Rease Wold
Guest

I’m sure this will save many lives and livelyhoods! Overdue, but it will be nice to know how to reach out for help if needed 🙂

Bob Martin
Guest

By calling 911 from any landline ir cellphone. Very simple.

Rease Wold
Guest

Yes, a drastic improvement for most places. Seems right now that most provinces have different cellphone numbers for fire or police and if you don’t have them programmed in, well…. You don’t want to be scrambling to find the one neighbor with the correct number at times when those numbers can mean life or death.

Rease Wold
Guest

I hope they do it “right” and make all cellphone companies in country allow free calls, even if you have no load, to 911. Easy to do, but it’s all in the planning.

Bob Martin
Guest

Cellphone companies in Davao cannot do business in the city if they do not allow free access to 911. This is a project of our Mayor Duterte, the incoming president, so I am certain that he will do it right, as he did here in Davao.

Rease Wold
Guest

Yeah, that’s the take I would make on it as well. Glad that this seems to being rolled out correctly!

Frank Woolf
Guest

It works extremely well in Davao. They are polite, fast and efficient.

John Wallace
Guest

Arthur Netteler, If the people really want to be part of the solution of fixing these problems they have to educate the people in safety also. You seem to not look at the problem and when there is a problem you blame the services instead of those that started the problem. What’s the idea here?

John Wallace
Guest

Seems Arthur wants to run away and not realize how ridiculous his comments are. His idea of dealing with his wrong doing is blocking people and running away.

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi John and Arthur, The problem is not so much the wood fires for cooking it is the wood homes. I see some wood homes, but I think most are built by people who can’t afford cinder blocks. My Filipino family cooks with wood all the time, but they live in a cinder block house and the area where they cook is a few feet away. It is quite obvious that emergency services are not good in the Philippines, but probably no worse than other countries with similar economic standing. AJ’s article was about an attempt to improve them. I… Read more »

PapaDuck
Guest
PapaDuck

Jay,

You are right. A lot of the fires are on squatter homes and the whole neighborhood burns down before any firefighters can get there. Maybe sometime down the road some kind of fire code can be implemented to prevent all the squatter homes from being built because those houses are a fire waiting to happen.

Rusty
Guest
Rusty

Great Article. Nice picture of the ambulance.

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