When to call 999: Bangladesh’s own Emergency Number

Emergencies do not come with a warning. In such events, doctors or the law enforcement may not be around to help out so one must respond fast. That is why the Universal Emergency Number 9-1-1 was thought by AT&T which has been serving the Americans since 1968.

The utility of this brilliant service gained recognition all over the world. It became popular because prior to these callers had to know the phone numbers of each department to call in case of an emergency.

In Bangladesh, such concept was unfamiliar till the ICT division launched its pilot project on December 2017. In association with the Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Fire Service, the Civil Defence Headquarters and the Department of Health, the Government has introduced an emergency number 999. This is our very own national emergency hotline which promises to be by our side in times of immediate need.

BTRC allocated 999 for this national help desk. It was changed from 2041 and 16666 upon the Honorable State Minister for ICTs request. The best part about the service is that it is toll-free. So the next time, you feel your life is under threat or someone you know needs quick medical help, you can call the number even if you are out of phone credit. The trained agents of the 999 service would direct you to the police or ambulance as you prefer.

One must know when to call this number since it is not an ordinary service. Users of emergency number across the world believe even if you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency you should call the number. You must not hesitate to seek help in situations which require expert attention.

So, when to call 999?

Since the service is still at its test period, it is best to aware people before it is widely available. Any emergency number, be it 911 or 999, must be carefully handled. According to 911.org, It’s better to be safe and let the emergency call taker determine if you need emergency assistance. Therefore it is best to observe the situation first without panicking. For example if you witness a road accident and serious casualties, make the call. You could probably save someone’s life by getting them an ambulance. The chart below beautifully defines when to or when not to call 999.

When to Call 999:     

Medical Emergencies      

Heart attack or stroke      

House fire      

Domestic violence      

Burglary or theft in progress      

Car accident with life threatening injuries      

Suspicious activities      

Anything else that seems like an emergency! 

Do not call 999:   

For information      

When there is load shedding     

To report a crack on your wall      

When your water pipes burst      

To get a ride for doctor’s appointment  for paying tickets      

For your pet   

As a prank


What to say by calling 999?
According to the website of National Helpdesk, the operators have already been trained to respond to different situations addressed by multiple callers. However when calling 999, one must provide the following information in details to assist them and to get quick relief:

1. Provide full address. In this case, mention district or name of upazila. If you do not know your accurate address, identify any landmark or bazaar near you.

2. Answer all the questions asked. The police or medical authorities may ask questions that you have to answer. This way they would be able to advice you about your initial steps to solve the problem.

3. Stay calm. When addressing your problem, you must be calm at all times for clarity. Becoming emotional would not only prevent the operators to understand your problems but keep them from giving you a remedy.

4. Describe your emergency. Provide these information carefully: Are you in the situation or someone else you know is? How did it happen? Which service do you require- Police or Ambulance? Is the condition of the injured very serious? Are they conscious? Are they breathing? Are they bleeding? If you cannot answer such questions clearly then let another person speak to the operator.

5. If theres a crime, describe the offender. If you are a witness to a crime, quickly move to a corner. Call 999 as fast as you can. If you know the criminal, mention that too. Let the operator know whether the criminal has a weapon. Answer these questions, how does he look? What is his religion? What is his approximate age, weight or color of dress? Is he still there or took off?

6.Keep your phone on. If you called from a cell phone, keep it on so that the operator could contact you back.

The 999 service is certainly a substantial change in the Bangladeshi society. There are drawbacks like the severe traffic condition of Dhaka city which may prevent quick response. The ambulance or the police may reach you much later than you hope for.

Hence keeping all these in mind, one must acknowledge the weight of an urgent situation and make the call as fast as possible. As crimes, medical emergencies are on the rise, such a service surely is a blessing. The ICT division deserves every support from the citizens for taking such a brilliant step.



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