Emergency hotlines 999 and 120 start cooperation

A 999 ambulance at a Xicheng district hospital Thursday. From Friday, 999 and 120 can respond to each other’s emergency calls. Photo: Guo Yingguang/GT

In a new attempt to improve Beijing’s ambulance response times, the 999 and 120 emergency lines started to coordinate from Friday.

The two ambulance services have been struggling to cope with increased demand, Ma Yanming, spokesperson for the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, told the Global Times.

Calls for emergency rescue in Beijing have been increasing by an average 15 percent annually, while only 86.4 percent of people who called got an ambulance last year because of a lack of vehicles and insufficient rescue outlets, Ma said.

“We plan to add some outlets and ambulances to reach more people, and achieve a goal of having 95 percent of rescue needs met by 2012,” said Ma, explaining that though traffic congestion, insufficient personnel and equipment are affecting their work efficiency, Beijing is still among the best in China in emergency rescue.

The 999 Emergency Center under the Red Cross Society of Beijing, and 120, or the Beijing Emergency Medical Center under the health bureau, have been working individually. Their services often overlap when residents call both numbers to make sure an ambulance will arrive quickly.

With the new program, the two centers will work together, sharing information to avoid overlapping and improve work efficiency. Some 93 cases of overlapped assignments were avoided since the program went on a trial run on July 7, according to the bureau.

Residents can call either hotline and if there is no response within 10 seconds, the call will be automatically transferred to the other. Each center will assign people to the rescue site when the other doesn’t have enough resources at the time.

The centers have the same equipment, service procedures and charge the same price, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The centers will both receive government financial support and work separately in other aspects. The new system will help reduce waste of resources, and help achieve more effective coordination in case of large, urgent incidents, said Li Jianren, publicity director of the 120 emergency center.

Ambulances will arrive on site in 15 minutes within urban areas, 20 minutes in the suburbs and 30 minutes in mountain areas by 2012, according to the plan.

Source: Global Times

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