Georgia, ‘112’ on the line
photo : Giorgi Zedginidze
Endless phone calls are the first thing that you hear when entering this ‘flying saucer’-shape building, as if levitating over Tbilisi. They are followed by monotonous questions: What happened? What is your name and surname? Please, don’t hang up.
I was waiting for 10 minutes until an operator, who agreed to be interviewed by me, was free. She answered 20 calls during those 10 minutes. People mostly asked for ambulances, though some of them just wanted to talk.
Nino, 26 (the operator’s surname can’t be made public – the editor’s remark), answers 350-400 calls daily. She is the emergency aid operator. Her main duty is to receive calls and to help immediately by calling the ambulance, the fire service. Police are called very often.
According to Nino, at first the operator’s work seemed to be primitive for her but reality turned out to be more complicated and interesting.
“We are not just the operators, but also the psychologists. We work in the extreme situation all the time. A person calls only when something happens to him/her. Sometimes a person is so nervous that can’t tell coherently what has happened. The operator should be mobilized and do everything possible to ensure that a person is rendered necessary assistance.
In Georgia, it’s possible to call the Emergency and Operative Response Center even with zero mobile phone balance and with no SIM-card in the phone.
Nick, ‘112′ center’s another operator, told two stories he was proud of because he had managed to save the people.
Once, a 9 year-old girl called. She turned to be trapped in the blocked elevator. She had no mobile phone balance and couldn’t call her parents.
Nick’s second story is about a shepherd who got lost in the mountains. “A call was received, but the caller didn’t even know, where he phoned. Perhaps, he had heard about our number. He turned to be a shepherd. Having put the cattle to the pasture he got sick. There was no mobile communication at that place and he couldn’t get anybody on the phone. Fortunately, we organized timely rescue operation and everything ended successfully, Nick told.
In 2015, the ‘112′ Emergency Service received over 75, 000 calls. Most callers needed medical aid.
Eka, a shift operator, has been working in ‘112′ since its foundation. According to her, it is emotionally difficult when the children ask for help. Given that they don’t always assess a degree of danger everything should be done to maintain a communication with them.
According to Eka, some children really act heroically. Namely, Dea Mgeladze, 11, was with her grandmother at home when the latter felt sick and lost consciousness. Dea immediately called ‘112′ and explained the situation in detail. The ambulance crew came well-prepared and saved the grandmother.
‘False calls’ still remain one of the pressing problems. Over the past 4 years, the ‘112′ Emergency Service received 32 million 800 thousand calls, but only 7 million out of them were not false. The rest of the people either called for fun or just wanted to talk. Some callers even asked to play some song for them.
Sanctions and fines against such callers have been toughened since 2014.