To alleviate the confusion in Samoa’s Emergency Numbers, the government is launching its new 911 emergency number at the Fire and Emergency Services Authority Headquarters, Tuanaimato, today.
The decision is a huge step forward for Samoa, according to Regulator, Lefaoali’i Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti.
The Office of the Regulator played a key role in the change.
“The Office of the Regulator under its mandate is responsible for managing, allocating and assigning all numbers and short codes use for telecommunication purposes in Samoa,” Lefaoali’i told the Samoa Observer.
“Part XI of the Telecommunications Act 2005 requires the Office of the Regulator to establish a Numbering Plan."
“Such Numbering Plan has been published and subsequently reviewed in 2016. The revised Numbering Plan has been endorsed by the Honorable Minister of the Office of the Regulator and has since been approved by Cabinet.”
The Regulator said the recommendation to their Minister, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, to change the emergency number was based on the result of surveys with members of the public and consultations with service providers and emergency responders.
“This initiative sees the movement from three different emergency numbers (994; 995; 996) to one particular number which is 9-1-1."
“The main purpose of this change among other things is to eliminate the confusion by any reporting individual regarding what appropriate number to call for any particular emergency."
“And also to expedite responses by the emergency services to minimise negative effects and most importantly to save lives.”
The move by the Regulator is highly supported by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, who said that for safety reasons the move is a must.
“There are a number of reasons the move is necessary. The 911 emergency number is a universal number and glad that Samoa has opted to make this change,” said Afamasaga.
“Also we have a number of tourists who come to Samoa and when they need help the number that comes to mind is 911."
“Again this is vital to ease up on the confusion but also a good move.”
According to the Regulator, accompanying this change will be a specific Call Centre housed in the Fire and Emergency Services Authority at Tuanaimato that will dispatch appropriate response to emergency calls as well as having dedicated phone lines for emergency and diversion made available with the kind assistance by Bluesky Samoa and Digicel Samoa.
“The emergency number 911 is one of the global emergency numbers and is currently use by many countries including in the Pacific Region."
“And 911 is used by Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Guam and American Samoa,” said Lefaoali’i.
She commended the Telecom Service Providers Bluesky and Digicel, Samoa Fire and Emergency Services, Ministry of Police, National Health Services, Disaster Management Office for the support and dedication in bringing this initiative thus far and especially the proactive implementation of this change.