Development of Policy Recommendations On Enhanced Access to Emergency Services in Jamaica

Development of Policy Recommendations On Enhanced Access to Emergency Services in Jamaica


The Office of Utilities Regulation (the OUR) recognises essential distinctions, in both policy and practice, between localized day-to-day incidents requiring immediate and speedy assistance in relation to public safety concerns of fire prevention/mitigation, law enforcement, air-sea rescue and primary emergency medical response, and those complex incidents or widespread disasters that result in serious disruptions in the functioning of society as a whole, and that in most countries, the concept of “emergency services”, in practice, typically relates to the former.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) defines an emergency call as: a call requesting emergency services—a caller is provided a fast and easy means of giving information about an emergency situation to an intermediary emergency call handling agency. The call will be routed to the appropriate emergency service provider (e.g., the Fire Brigade, Police, or an ambulance service which is a major entry point to the public and private hospital system) by the call handling agent.

In Jamaica, these emergency calls are made by dialling one of the 3-digit emergency numbers: 110, 112, 911 and 119. The use of 110, which is being replaced by 911 and 112, will be discontinued in the near future. The 119 Emergency number traditionally provides for direct calling to the police in cases of exclusive law enforcement emergencies.

It is well acknowledged that the efficiency, reliability and availability of emergency service access are of paramount importance to public safety and wellbeing. It is also evident that improvements in technology and government policy in developed countries and increasingly in the developing world, have improved the capabilities of health, safety and security agencies to deliver vital services to citizens during emergencies.

Whilst it is not possible to predict all the social and technology changes that will occur over time, steps can be taken to ensure that organisational, governance and legal arrangements are reasonably capable of dealing with existent and future challenges and opportunities. Primarily for those reasons, it became necessary to conduct an overall review of emergency service access arrangements in Jamaica and to propose technically, economically and operationally feasible alternative means of accommodating the end-to-end process of call initiation, handling, and forwarding to the emergency service providers.