House bill wants to employ wounded soldiers as 911 disaster hotline operators

  • A bill filed in Congress seeks to employ wounded soldiers to man a strengthened 911 hotline network
  • The bill proposes a nationwide disaster response hotline down to the barangay level
  • Soldiers who were released from duty due to injuries would be prioritized for training as 911 operators

A bill filed in the House of Representatives seeks to institutionalize a nationwide disaster response hotline which would be manned by wounded soldiers who were released from duty.

House Bill 2743 or the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) 911 Act, authored jointly by Surigao del Norte Rep. Johnny Pimentel, Malabon Rep. Federico Sandoval and Western Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, proposes to establish 911 public safety answering points (PSAPs) as repository of emergency calls, down to the barangay level.

“We want anybody who dials 911 from any point in the Philippines from any landline or cellular phones, whether postpaid or prepaid, with or without call load or credits, or payphones, to be able to make a distress call that is routed right away to the PSAP nearest to the caller,” Pimentel told the Manila Standard.

The proposed hotline shall be toll free and will be prioritizing injured soldiers who were released from duty, to be trained to serve as operators of the PSAPs.

“Soldiers released from service on account of combat-related injury, including those who are wheelchair-bound, would be accorded priority training and employment as 911 dispatchers,” Pimentel said.

The new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier established the nationwide 911 hotline to replace the old Patrol 117 under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Pimentel, expressing disappointment of previous administrations  to utilize the hotline properly, said the bill seeks to build a system around the 911 as a further improvement.

“Our bill intends to build a whole system around the 911 hotline, with PSAPs in every region, province, city, municipality and eventually in every barangay. We are actually disappointed that previous administrations failed to recognize the tremendous value of 911 PSAPs in saving lives,” he said.

The bill also mandates the creation of a WARN 911 Commission that will supervise the hotline system.