Sharing 999 call centres not the only way to modernise services

Police, fire and ambulance services in England should share control rooms to improve their response to 999 calls, a Home Office minister has said.

Professor Will Stewart, Chair of the Institution of Engineering and Technology communications policy panel, said: “We welcome the Home Office’s call for the police, fire and ambulance services in England to share control rooms in order to improve their response to 999 calls.

“This is not the only way in which the emergency service needs to modernise. We are also calling for a digital emergency service where the public can contact the emergency services via SMS and social media, and send in helpful data such as sound recordings, pictures and video, in addition to the conventional voice call. In the future this sort of information could help medical staff make critical decisions in difficult cases [such as that of the baby with sepsis reported today].

“Having a single control room would simplify handling alerts from the public by a number of different communication channels. It would also hopefully speed up the process of introducing a digital emergency service.”

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