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111 has been the emergency telephone number in New Zealand since September 1958. It was specifically chosen to comply with the positioning of the 999 emergency number in the United Kingdom. The numbers 1 through to 9 on the dial phones in New Zealand and the UK were reversed, i.e., the digit "9" in the UK is where the digit "1" is in New Zealand, the digit "8" in the UK is where the digit "2" is in New Zealand, and so on for all digits but with the zero and "5" unchanged. In the early years the New Zealand telephone equipment was based on BPO - British Post Office - equipment except for this unusual orientation. Though the effect is not obvious to users of modern touch-tone phones it is on pulse or rotary dial phones in New Zealand that the difference is obvious in that dialing a "1" sends 9 pulses in New Zealand to the exchange (in the UK dialing a "9" would have sent 9 pulses).

In North America, this code cannot be used as an N11 number because of a conflict with the rotary alternative for star commands (11XX for *XX).

In South Korea, 111 is a special telephone number for reporting spies, international crimes, terrorism, corporate espionage, employment fraud and forgeries, and other crimes that threaten national security. It is operated by National Intelligence Service([1]).

Calling 1-1-1 in New Zealand

  • Make sure you have a dial tone.
  • If you usually dial a number for an outside line, dial it first.
  • Pause between every "1" you dial - "1" pause "1" pause "1".
  • You may have to wait several seconds before you hear the phone ringing.
  • Do NOT hang up.
  • A Telecom operator will ask what service you require (Fire, Ambulance or Police) and you will then be put through to the requested service. Always ask for the service that is most urgently required; each emergency service can request other services on your behalf. For example, a car crash with injuries may require all three services, but ask for ambulance as this is the service that is most important.
  • Give your name, what the emergency is, and where to send help. Always give the most accurate location you can, and always give the name of the city or town. If you are in a rural area, try to describe your location in terms of the nearest settlement or prominent landmark. Refer to RAPID numbers or GPS location if possible.

Your call will be forwarded to the call centre which is geographically closest to you. (If that centre fails to answer within a few seconds then the call automatically forwards to the next centre, and so on)

Other emergency numbers in New Zealand

Hearing impaired people can TTY 0800 16 16 16 or fax 0800 16 16 10.

From your cellphone, dialling *555 will put you in contact with the police. *555 is used for reporting non life threatening traffic incidents (such as road blockages, or non serious road accidents requiring police attention).

The Poison and Hazardous Chemicals urgent line is 0800 POISON (0800 764 766). The poison line provides immediate treatment advice and assistance in case of exposure to poisonous or hazardous substances. Always ring 1-1-1 and ask for Ambulance if poisoned person is unwell or unconscious.

In some areas, dialling 9-1-1 or 9-9-9 will automatically connect to the 1-1-1 operator (given the widespread popularity of these emergency numbers internationally).

Using cellphones, the international emergency numbers 1-1-2, 9-1-1 and 0-8 also usually connect to the 1-1-1 operator.

Recent controversy

In 2004, the police answering of emergency telephone service came under sustained scrutiny for systemic problems. On May 11 2005, a severely critical independent report([2]) into the Police Communications Centres was released. It expressed ongoing concerns for public safety, and identified inadequate management, poor leadership, inadequate training, understaffing, underutilised technology and a lack of customer focus as being underlying risks for systemic failures. The report made over 60 recommendations for improvement, including recommending a 15 to 20 year strategy to move away from using 1-1-1 as an emergency telephone number because of problems with misdialing due to the repeated digits.

Despite ambiguous reporting, these issues were never with the 1-1-1 service itself, and did not impact fire or ambulance services. The problems were restricted solely to the Police Communications Centres.

See also


External Links