The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced today that the Philippine Emergency Hotline 911 has resumed full operation after a brief hiatus after several of its Emergency Telecommunicators were infected with COVID-19.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año thanked the public for their kind understanding of the problems faced by the Emergency 911 Hotline. “Malugod pong naming ipinapaalam sa lahat na balik sa normal na po ang ating operasyon sa E911 hotline. Maraming salamat sa inyong pang-uunawa at dasal, nalampasan na ng ating mga kasamahan sa National Call Center ang pagsubok na ito,” Año said.
The E911 hotline is a DILG-run security and development program that provides response and emergency assistance to people in distress. Calls coursed through this number include those that require police assistance, fire reports, emergency medical assistance, search and rescue, and even those that concern chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) materials.
The Department earlier announced that Emergency 911 calls from the National Call Center were temporarily rerouted to eight local call centers when five emergency telecommunicators (ETCs) tested positive for COVID-19.
Año said that the problem was further aggravated when 20 more detailed personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection also tested positive for the COVID-19 virus causing further delay in the resumption of the regular operations.
E911 Executive Director Diosdado Valeroso said that the National Call Center had to be disinfected twice after the infection of some BFP telecommunicators.
He added that the 5 ETCs were all asymptomatic and have fully recovered after their 14-day quarantine while the BFP personnel are also back to work. To keep the E911 operations going, he revealed that a Work from Home team dubbed as Team Mabini was formed and activated during the said period.
“We have currently four teams: Team Lapulapu, Team Rizal, Team Bonifacio, and Team Tandang Sora with 18 ETCs each who work round the clock on a 24-hour work shift due to transportation issues,” Valeroso said.
He earlier said that in 2019 alone, E911 calls swelled from 18.482 million from 1.46-million calls in 2016, a figure which even ballooned further since March this year with the DILG- Department of Health (DOH) partnership on COVID-related calls.
Some 20 ETCs from the DOH are now co-located at the DILG E911 National Call Center with the DOH ETCs handling purely COVID-19-related calls and the DILG ETCs handling the emergency calls.
Valeroso cited that the Department’s ETCs also serve as an augmentation team with that of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council during calamities and disasters like typhoons.
“We get some positive remarks or comments mainly through the social media and of course from our friends who are also aware of what we at the DILG-911 are doing,” the 911 executive director said.