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Universal emergency numbers for November

Published:Wednesday | October 26, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica is set to be the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to activate the new International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recommendation towards the global harmonisation of emergency numbers.

Effective mid-November, the numbers to dial for calls to emergency services in Jamaica will be 112 and 911. These numbers will replace the current 110 emergency number which is used to reach fire, police and ambulance services.

Jamaica's 119 police emergency number will remain and will not be affected by this change. However, 110 will be phased out within a year.

The local Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), which conceptualised the initiative, said while the old and new numbers might be dialled to reach the emergency services during that period, they are encouraging callers to use only the new numbers in order to become familiar with them.

ITU has also recommended that any country planning to introduce an emergency number use either 112 or 911, while those planning to introduce a second or alternative number should use one or both of the codes.

OUR recommendation

The OUR made the recommendation to ITU for the globalisation of the system following an incident in the United Kingdom a few years ago involving a Jamaican family which suffered a dire consequence because the visiting family members did not immediately know the number to reach the emergency services.

The OUR also put on the table issues relating to increased international travel, concerns for the safety and well-being of persons travelling to a foreign country, and the need for an internationally harmonised emergency number solution for easy dialling access to local emergency services.