The Surprise Emergency Call — Siau Wei

By CodeBlue | 11 November 2019

I received a call from a funeral service 1.5 hours after making a 999 emergency call for an ambulance.

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We saw someone die on the street.

One evening, on October 18, 2019, as we were walking on Jalan Tun HS Lee, we saw three men surrounding another man who was sitting on a chair but looked sick. We asked what happened and they explained that this Arab-looking man walking just ahead of them suddenly fell on the floor and fainted.

Without hesitation, I called 999 for the ambulance at 7.51pm. The lady from the emergency call asked a few questions, such as “What happened? Do you know him? Is he able to talk? Can you check his pulse? Is he still alive?”

While I understand this is the standard procedure to verify prank calls, I started to feel a little annoyed as the sick man was now look sicker and showed less and less response. When I ended the call, I checked my phone and it indicated the call duration as four minutes, 44 seconds.

The man’s face became stiff at this stage and his eyes were wide open.

A few passersby, including some tourists, tried to do CPR. Even though they looked like they knew what they were doing, they stopped a few times after some counts they did and said “it is too late”. Two police officers rode past on bikes also stopped to check out what was happening.

Thinking that the ambulance was now on the way and there wasn’t anything much we could help, we decided to walk on. The feeling was terrible to just witness someone dying in front of you, even though you did not know him.

As my smartphone detected that I had just made an emergency call, it popped a message to notify that the phone would now unblock all numbers so that I could be contacted again if needed.

One hour and half later, I received a call from a strange number. A guy calling himself Peter said he was from a funeral service and asked if someone from my family had passed away.

I was extremely shocked.

I told him he was not my family member and asked how he had my number. Peter said he got it from the emergency ambulance service. Five minutes later, Peter called again to ask if there is any way I could find out what nationality the deceased was and his family.

I said no. This time, I was filled with anger.

It made me wonder if this is a norm in our medical industry. I understand these funeral service people wait at the hospital for deaths to happen, but never in my mind that there is a syndicate for the emergency services to share details about recently deceased persons, and caller information like this.

It made me wonder if the staff responsible for the calls get any “commission” or referral fee from the funeral service for sharing contacts and information.

If this holds some truth, the person receiving emergency calls could also abuse the system and delay sending an ambulance if he/ she is motivated by money.

I may make too many assumptions and I am not an expert in the medical or helpline industry, but this experience truly shocked me.

I hope an investigation will be conducted to check loopholes or any syndicate behind this.

Even if I was wrong about a commission or referral fee, it was still unethical to share a caller’s number without his/ her permission.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.
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