South Africa 4.4.2015 05:00 pm

Social media could cause distrust of emergency services

Picture: Thinkstock

Picture: Thinkstock

Death and disaster could result from claims on social media that Tshwane Emergency Services (TES) are incompetent, the section warned.

“People tweeting messages on social media must make very sure of their facts before reporting untrue and derogatory information about us,” the TES said in a statement.

“Such messages cause the public to distrust the one institution that could really help them in the event of a fire. All firefighters are fully trained to fight fires and serve the community with pride and passion.”

The TES came under fire after allegations on social media that it only arrived on the scene of a house fire two hours after the initial call for assistance had been made, Rekord North reported.

The messages state that a house fire on March 22 in a rural area in the north of the city was reported to the police and only referred to the TES after a major delay. The TES rejected claims that it arrived on the scene after two hours.

“The fire was in fact reported to emergency services at 7.39am, and the first rescue pumper arrived on the scene from Wonderboom at 7.59am – 20 minutes after the call centre came to learn about the emergency,” said TES.

Twenty minutes was an acceptable time for a response to a rural area call, the TES said.

The TES urged residents to educate children and all other family members in the household about the call centre numbers, and he asked that the local police station or fire protection association not be contacted first.

“The police and fire protection associations transfer or report such information to emergency services for action, so the information is delayed if not directly reported to the call centre numbers. In a fire situation, every minute counts, as fire spreads rapidly,” TES stated.

The fire protection associations in Tshwane and the Sinoville Brandbestrydingsvereniging (firefighting association) provided vital support to emergency services, but were trained to assist only with grass and brush/bush fires.

The service has one call centre that receives all emergencies reported. The call centre can be contacted by dialling 10177 or 012-310-6300/6400.

-Caxton News Service

 

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