Learning from the USA's Single Emergency Number 911: Policy Implications for Korea

미국 긴급번호 911 운영시스템에 관한 연구: 긴급번호 실질적 통합을 위한 정책 시사점 제시 중심으로

  • 김학경 (성신여자대학교 융합보안학과) ;
  • 이성용 (계명대학교 경찰행정학과)
  • Received : 2015.04.21
  • Accepted : 2015.06.02
  • Published : 2015.06.30


In Korea, a single emergency number, such as 911 of the USA and 999 of the UK, does not exist. This issue became highly controversial, when the Sewol Ferry Sinking disaster occurred last year. So, the Korean government has planned to adopt a single emergency number, integrating 112 of the Police, 119 of the Fire and Ambulance, 122 of the Korean Coast Guard, and many other emergency numbers. However, the integration plan recently proposed by the Ministry of Public Safety Security seems to be, what is called, a "partial integration model" which repeals the 122 number, but still maintains 112, 119, and 110 respectively. In this context, the study looks into USA's (diverse) 911 operating system, and subsequently tries to draw general features or characteristics. Further, the research attempts to derive policy implication from the general features. If the proposed partial integration model reflects the policy implications, the model can virtually operate like the 911 system -i.e. a single emergency number system - creating inter-operability between responding agencies such as police, fire, and ambulance, even though it is not a perfect integration model. The features drawn are (1) integration of emergency call-taking, (2) functional separation of call-taking and dispatching, (3) integration of physical facilities for call-taking and dispatching, and (4) professional call-takers and dispatchers. Moreover, the policy implications derived from the characteristics are (1) a user-friendly system - fast but accurate responses, (2) integrated responses to accidents, (3) professional call-taking and dispatching & objective and comprehensive risk assessment, and finally (4) active organizational learning in emergency call centers. Considering the policy implications, the following suggestions need to be applied to the current proposed plan: 1. Emergency services' systems should be tightly linked and connected in a systemic way so that they can communicate and exchange intelligence with one another. 2. Public safety answering points (call centers) of each emergency service should share their education and training modules, manuals, etc. Common training and manuals are also needed for inter-operability. 3. Personal management to enable-long term service in public safety answering points (call centers) should be established as one of the ways to promote professionalism.