LAHORE: Rescue Lost Helpline 1192, since its test launch on May 23, 2019, has reunited 98 people with their families.
Introduced by the Punjab Emergency Service, the helpline is the first such initiative at a government level to devise a coordinated process of recording and reuniting such victims with their families. During the period, 194 lost victims were reported and 469 were found unidentified.
Rescue 1122 Information Wing Head Deeba Shahnaz Akhtar told The Express Tribune that the reunited victims are of a higher number than shown in the report. “It was a test run launch which was being closely monitored to point out shortcomings. The lesser number, under the head of reunited, is because authorities were lagging behind in terms of reporting back to the control room, especially in instances which resulted in the death of the victim.”
Rescue 1122 shifted victims to hospitals for treatment and those who lost their lives were shifted to morgues, she added. Rescue 1122 structures, at the district level, would report such cases to Helpline 1122 control room temporarily set up at Akhtar’s office. Staff present in the control room would update information in their database. They would also collect information and enter the same into the database if a family member in search of a lost one would contact them.
Akhtar said that Punjab Information and Technology Board (PITB) had also provided them access to police data of such lost cases. “The staff at the control room, under my supervision, will try to match the information entered into their database in their districts.” The performa they had provided to their staff at ground level did not have a comprehensive mechanism of reporting back to the control room when a lost victim was reunited with their family. Akhtar said this was a test launch and they were trying to update it alongside efforts to point out other gaps.
“The performa for lost victim asked a caller to provide information like name, address and relation with the victim etc. Afterwards, it asked details for the lost victims, including name, father’s name, approximate age, gender, date and time of disappearance, place of disappearance, district, address, hair colour, facial hair, skin complexion, height, weight, dressing, colour of dress, shoes type, identification marks, lost victim contact number, disability, education, victim vehicle and its registration number, police station, any FIR registered against disappearance of the individual and a fresh photograph.
The purpose of asking for such minor details is to create maximum possibilities of matching the information provided by the caller and that is already entered into the database. If a match was found, they would further work on it to figure out if it was the same lost individual, she added.
Taking an example, Rescue 1122 Lahore Spokesperson Farooq Ahmad told The Express Tribune that the service reunited a minor girl named Sawera with her family a few weeks ago. The victim had gone missing and somehow reached their rescue station. The staff informed Lost Helpline 1192. Meanwhile, the victim’s family also reached Rescue 1122 in search of the victim. The helpline staff played a role in reuniting the victim with the family.
Akhtar went on the say that authorities came up with the idea because they received a lot of calls by families of lost victims of accidents and disasters.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2019.