Emergency+ app: Triple-0 calls made a lot easier by using app

LIFE-CHANGER: This free has the ability to pinpoint your location when calling triple-0 to help emergency services find you quicker. Photo: EMERGENCY+ APP
LIFE-CHANGER: This free has the ability to pinpoint your location when calling triple-0 to help emergency services find you quicker. Photo: EMERGENCY+ APP

RECEIVING a triple-0 call with incorrect or insufficient address details is almost a daily occurrence for the region's emergency service personnel. Despite the introduction of technology that can help callers pinpoint their exact location, many are not using it.

Often, people calling triple-0 with an emergency don't know their exact location or how far along the road they might have travelled to give those details to the call centre operator.

Identifying a person's location in an emergency is one of the most critical elements to survival, the region's emergency service personnel say.

The Emergency+ smartphone app uses the GPS functionality of the smartphone to pinpoint the caller's exact location and the result is a quicker response by emergency services.

Too late to help

After 21 years in the job, NSW Ambulance Superintendent Brad Porter has unfortunately seen the "worst case scenario" following callers who provide inadequate address details for an emergency.

"Often people ring up and say 'I need an ambulance' and then they hang up," he said.

Back in the days when most people called from a landline this was easier because a trace could be put on the address of that phone number, but these days things are very different.

"About 65 per cent of calls for triple-0 now come through on mobile phones," Supt Porter said.

And, while the mobile phone owner's home address can be traced, this is not always where the call is being made.

Just recently, a triple-0 call was made for someone who was in cardiac arrest and while the house number and street were provided by the caller, the nearest cross street was not.

About 65 per cent of calls for triple-0 now come through on mobile phones.

NSW Ambulance Superintendent Brad Porter

Unfortunately, the street was long and paramedics were not sure which end they should start looking for the house, and the road was also split in two with no direct way through.

Paramedics were forced to go around the long way and got there too late.

Earlier this year paramedics were called to a shooting on a rural property in the Central West and the caller, who was a visitor to the farm, did not know the address or nearest cross street.

Thankfully, in this case, paramedics still got there in time to save a life.

Where are you exactly?

While it's often not the fault of the caller, NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Orana Team Superintendent Lyndon Wieland said incorrect or insufficient address details made it very difficult for firefighters.

"We need to know whether to turn right or left," he said.

"If we're delayed in any way to an incident, there's always a risk because we don't know if a person's trapped in a car accident or in a house fire."

In his years with the RFS Supt Wieland can recall receiving insufficient directions "many many times".

"It happens regularly, particularly with people who are travelling through the area," he said.

If we're delayed in any way to an incident, there's always a risk.

NSW Rural Fire Service Orana Team Superintendent Lyndon Wieland

"People could be travelling along and a driver has a heart attack and they mightn't know how far along the road they've travelled.

"We get some really bad calls and it's nobody's fault, it's just that people aren't familiar with the area."

Lost in the bush

Central West Police District Chief Inspector Peter Atkins has had his fair share of call outs to inadequate addresses during his 25 years in the job.

A number of those calls have been for lost or injured bushwalkers and four-wheel-drivers in need of help in the region's state forests and nature reserves.

"There's definitely been a number of times when we get people saying they're lost on Mount Canobolas and they don't know where they are," he said.

"It delays the response. It could be a matter of life or death, particularly on Mount Canobolas in the winter."

How does the Emergency+ app work?

The emergency call should be made by opening the app and then clicking on the triple-0 icon.

Upon opening the app, it will display the exact longitude and latitude of your location which you then pass on to the operator.

The app also allows you to call the State Emergency Service (SES) and the Police Assistance Line.

This is a game-changer, emergency services say

LIFE-CHANGER: This free has the ability to pinpoint your location when calling triple-0 to help emergency services find you quicker. Photo: EMERGENCY+ APP

LIFE-CHANGER: This free has the ability to pinpoint your location when calling triple-0 to help emergency services find you quicker. Photo: EMERGENCY+ APP

A Fire and Rescue NSW spokeswoman said while the app was great for anyone planning on travelling during these school holidays, it was just as useful to everyone the community.

"Today, a large percentage of calls to triple-0 are made from mobile phones," she said.

"Sometimes mobile phone users are not aware of their physical location, making it difficult for emergency call operators to dispatch emergency services.

"This app helps callers tell emergency operators their location as determined by their smartphone's GPS capability."

NSW Ambulance zone manager Superintendent Brad Porter praised the Emergency+ app and said it benefits a range of callers

He said it was not always the case that people calling triple-0 were in an area that they were unfamiliar with.

Drugs and alcohol-affected people often don't give adequate or accurate directions, neither do some people who are suffering from certain medical conditions such as a stroke.

All organisations have the ability to identify where you are using latitude and longitude.

Central West Police District Chief Inspector Peter Atkins

"They might not be able to remember where they live," Supt Porter said.

Central West Police District Chief Inspector Peter Atkins said the Emergency+ app was useful to all emergency services during an incident.

"All organisations have the ability to identify where you are using latitude and longitude," he said.

The Emergency+ app is free and available on iOS, Android and Windows devices through the Google Play, Windows and Apple stores.

Should you call triple-0 or your local station?

RESPONSE: Fire and Rescue NSW Bathurst Station Officer Sandy Collins says calling the station, rather than triple-0, actually delays the response. Photo: NADINE MORTON

RESPONSE: Fire and Rescue NSW Bathurst Station Officer Sandy Collins says calling the station, rather than triple-0, actually delays the response. Photo: NADINE MORTON

YOU might be on a first name basis your local firie, cop or ambo, but there is a very serious reason why you should only call triple-0 in an emergency.

All too often emergency service personnel across the Central West say that community members don't call triple-0 and instead call their local police, fire or ambulance station for help.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Bathurst Station Officer Sandy Collins said rather than making the response to your emergency quicker, calling the station actually slows it down.

"We have to take all of the person's details and then we have to call triple-0 and relay all of the details again," he said.

"Then, we can't respond until it's [the incident] assigned to us.

"If they ring triple-0 themselves we are assigned to that call while the person is still on the phone."

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Orana Team Superintendent Lyndon Wieland agreed and said people should only call triple-0 in an emergency.

If they ring triple-0 themselves we are assigned to that call while the person is still on the phone.

Fire and Rescue NSW Bathurst Station Officer Sandy Collins

"A lot of people don't like change and want to call the local people that they know, but they should really call triple-0 for the fastest response to the emergency," he said.

Station Officer Collins said recently someone called Bathurst FRNSW to report a bushfire, but the blaze was actually in an RFS zone.

Unlike a FRNSW station, he said triple-0 call takers are equipped with mapping systems that can help determine where the fire is burning from the caller's information.

"I think people feel a bit frightened to call triple-0 but it's really not that difficult, the operator talks you through everything," Station Officer Collins said.

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