April Fools’ false alarms must be avoided

02 Apr 2014 19:10pm
SWAKOPMUND, 02 APR (NAMPA) – Emergency services personnel at this coastal town found themselves at the receiving end of an April Fools’ joke after an unknown person reported a false accident.
April Fools’ jokes are celebrated every year on 01 April, during which people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. Hoax stories are also presented by the media.
On Tuesday morning, two ambulances from the E-Med Rescue services and the Swakopmund Fire and Rescue Department were seen rushing to Henties Bay for a supposed car accident.
A fire officer in the Swakopmund Municipality told Nampa on condition of anonymity as he is not permitted to speak to the media that the prankster reported a car accident in Henties Bay, situated 70 kilometres east of Swakopmund.
But no accident was found.
The concerned officer used the opportunity to discourage such jokes on emergency services across the nation, saying such officials are there to save lives and properties.
“People must stop raising false alarms on emergency vehicles as they can jeopardise other people’s lives. A real car accident or fire can happen while we are attending to a false call. People who were supposed to be rescued could die,” said the officer.
He also said it is very difficult to prove that a certain number raised a false alarm, as such calls are not recorded.
Asked for his opinion, spokesperson of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) Edwin Kanguatjivi on Wednesday said raising a false alarm is an offense punishable by law.
“It is an offense, thus people must avoid raising false alarms on emergency services,” he said briefly.
A Windhoek based lawyer, who also asked not to be named, told this agency that the consequence of raising a false alarm could be lawsuits for damages, such as loss of fuel on vehicles used.
“Such actions have more serious consequences as the offenders could be sued for loss of lives, should the driver of the ambulance or fire truck die or run over and kill another human being,” the lawyer said.
He noted that in some instances, if the person killed in a false alarm incident is a breadwinner, his/her family can sue for loss of income.