60 years of 111

Elliot Steel |
 Joint media release with New Zealand Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, St John New Zealand, Wellington Free Ambulance, and Spark New Zealand.

Emergency services and Spark are officially marking the 60th anniversary (29 September) of the 111 emergency response service in New Zealand.

The 111 service is delivered through a partnership between Spark and the emergency service providers – Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Ambulance (St John and Wellington Free Ambulance) and New Zealand Police.

To mark the 60th anniversary, Spark and the emergency services have produced a video that gives important advice for people when they call 111.

One key piece of information all three services need from 111 callers is their location.

“It’s really important callers provide the exact address of the emergency and if they can’t do that, identifying an important landmark is the next best thing,” says Fire and Emergency National Communication Centres Manager, Gavin Travers.

“The more information we have about where you are and what’s happened, the quicker we can get the right help to you,” says Police Acting National Manager Communication Centres, Superintendent Steve Kehoe. 

“We encourage people to try and stay as calm as possible and give us as much information as they can,” says St John Assistant Director of Operations, Doug Gallagher.

“In addition to the 111 calls transferred from Spark, St John receives thousands of calls from healthcare providers which take its total emergency call volume to more than half a million per year.”

“Our call takers are specially trained to work out the best medical care and treatment. They use an international system that is the clinically proven way of getting the right help, to the right people, in the best possible time” says Wellington Free Ambulance Communication Centre Director Kate Jennings.

The Ambulance Services say it’s important to stay on the line – speaking to an operator on the phone doesn’t delay help.

All three services are keen to remind the public that non-genuine calls, such as pocket dials, affect their ability to respond to real emergencies.

New Zealand's emergency call system is aligned with international best practice and all the services are committed to continuous improvement.

Police’s Communication Centres recently introduced a 111 deaf text service for people with hearing impairment.

Police and Ambulance have also put in place an Emergency Caller Location Indicator which enables them to identify the location of cellphone callers in emergency situations. This is particularly helpful when people are lost or don’t know their location, or the call ends abruptly.

The 60th anniversary of 111 is an opportunity to acknowledge the thousands of New Zealanders who have been involved in delivering emergency communications and emergency services over the years.

111 Facts and Figures

• Approximately 6000 calls to 111 every day

• 2.1 million calls a year

In 2017 there were:

- 90,000 calls to Fire and Emergency

- 461,000 calls to Ambulance

- 856,000 calls to Police

• 111 can be called from any connected phone in New Zealand.

• 70 per cent of 111 calls come from mobile phones.

• When a person dials 111 their call is answered by the Spark Emergency Service Operator in either Wellington or Christchurch and then transferred to the required emergency service.

• Fire, Ambulance and Police operate communication centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

• The 111 service started as a trial in Masterton and Carterton in September 1958 and was progressively rolled out across the country, with full installation completed by 1988.




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