emergency services

Kobe City firefighters ask you to stop calling emergency numbers for trivial stuff like sunburns

We’ve all heard stories about absurd calls to emergency lines, from people calling about a bat in the house to a missing newspaper delivery. We like to think that these people aren’t stupid so much as too frustrated to think clearly…though we may be wrong.

Of course, Japan isn’t free of these kinds of silly emergency calls, either. In fact, a recent article received a lot of attention online when it listed some of the simply absurd emergency calls that have been made in Kobe City. Check them out below…

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“Help, there’s no TP!” Japan’s emergency services plagued by nonsense calls

Back when I was working in city hall at a small rural town in Kyoto prefecture, one of my duties involved heading to the fire station a few times a month to “role play” with the firemen. (Hey, it beat pushing papers.) To help them gain some experience with handling potential emergency calls from foreign residents, I would play the part of the panicking gaijin, often trying to come up with weird and wacky scenarios for the emergency services guys to handle. The object was to train the (almost completely non-English speaking) EMTs to pick out essential keywords such as “fire”, “car accident”, “unconscious”, etc from a barrage of English, but mostly I just had a blast inventing crazy scenarios like “my Playstation 3 just blew up and set fire to my neighbour’s poodle!”

It’s not all fun and games, however. Time-wasting calls to Japan’s emergency services numbers 119 and 110 have been a serious problem recently, with increasing numbers of people abusing the service to ask for help with a range of ridiculous scenarios, ranging from running out of toilet paper to forgetting their smartphone password…

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