108 (emergency telephone number)

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108 (emergency telephone number)

108 is an emergency telephone number used in several countries for the purpose of reaching emergency services. It is designed to provide an easy-to-remember and universal way for the public to access local emergency medical services (EMS), fire services, and police in case of an emergency. The service is free of charge and can be dialed from landlines, mobile phones, and some VoIP systems.

Overview[edit | edit source]

The concept of a universal emergency telephone number was first introduced to simplify the process of reporting emergencies. The number 108 is particularly prominent in India, where it is used to access immediate medical, police, and fire emergency services. The service is operated by the respective state governments in partnership with private companies, and it is known for its rapid response and efficiency.

Operation[edit | edit source]

When a person dials 108, the call is routed to an Emergency Response Centre (ERC) where trained call-takers, often referred to as emergency response officers, answer the call. These officers are trained to assess the situation quickly, dispatch the appropriate emergency services, and provide pre-arrival instructions to the caller if necessary.

The ERC is equipped with advanced technology such as Automatic Number Identification and Automatic Location Identification to help pinpoint the caller's location, which is crucial for a swift response. The service operates 24/7, ensuring that help is always available in an emergency.

Services Provided[edit | edit source]

The 108 emergency number provides a wide range of services, including but not limited to:

  • Immediate medical attention and ambulance dispatch for critical and non-critical situations.
  • Firefighting services in case of fire incidents, including rescue operations.
  • Police intervention for incidents involving crime, accidents, or any situation requiring law enforcement.
  • Disaster response during natural or man-made disasters, coordinating with various agencies for effective management.

Impact[edit | edit source]

The implementation of the 108 emergency number has significantly improved the efficiency of emergency response services in regions where it is operational. It has led to quicker dispatch of emergency services, better coordination during disasters, and overall, a higher rate of lives saved. The system's success is attributed to its simplicity, ease of access, and the comprehensive training of its personnel.

Challenges[edit | edit source]

Despite its successes, the 108 service faces challenges such as prank calls, which can overload the system and delay response to genuine emergencies. There is also the ongoing need to upgrade technology and expand infrastructure to ensure that the growing demand for emergency services is met.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The 108 emergency telephone number is a vital component of the emergency response system in countries where it is operational. It provides a lifeline to those in need, offering a direct line to various emergency services. As technology advances and the system continues to evolve, the 108 service will remain an essential part of public safety and emergency management.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD