Many of us have laughed at the Flying Pigs and their sketches about the confusing place names in Aberdeenshire. You may know the classic one about the Mr Duguid of Garioch Road, Finzean.
Those in the know are aware that Duguid, Garioch and Finzean are definitely not pronounced as they are spelt. And if you pronounce nearby Strachan as ‘Strach-an’ you will get some strange looks from the locals.
That’s not to even mention Findochty, or Foggie Loan (spelt Aberchirder)!
I also remember an Aberdeenshire magazine editor telling how she and her business partner went to the Bank of Scotland in Inverurie for a business meeting, only to find that the call centre had booked their meeting in Inveraray!
So what does all this have to do with emergency services and the police?
There are many of us who believe that local knowledge is vital in terms of responding to an emergency. Quite simply, it is useful (or rather more than “useful”!) if the emergency control operators know the area, know how flustered people in an emergency will pronounce place names and know roughly how to get from Strachan to Finzean.
For us, the suggestion that Scottish Police will close the emergency call centre in Aberdeen, is more than a little concerning.
With the best will in the world, people in Dundee, can’t know the lie of the land in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as someone living and working in the area.
That’s why it is important that – if you share these concerns – you take the time to respond to the questionnaire
The closing date for responses is August 23. So if you care about the effectiveness of emergency response to your 999 call, now is the time to act – not when you need the call centre to know how to get emergency services to you.
You should enter your comments in the second last page of the questionnaire, when it invites you to “Please add any further information or comments about police call handling in Scotland”
The initial questions are whether you have used the non-emergency number or 999 in the last two years. You are then asked for general comments about contacting the police.
This is where I suggest you voice concerns about the importance of local knowledge in handing emergency calls. With the best of intentions, people outside the local area will not have the same intimate knowledge of place names and locations. In an emergency this could have serious implications.