By Peter Oliver Ochieng
Busia has joined Kisumu as the only Counties in the Western region of Kenya to have an Emergency and Operations Centre (EOC) which includes a dedicated toll-free line for residents to report emergencies, majority of which are health-related.
The Centre is now operational owing to partnership between the border County’s administration and various organisations, among them Global Implementation Solutions (GIS).
It is located at the former Medical Superintendent’s office, within the Busia County Referral Hospital for easy facilitation of operations. The toll-free line is 0800721009.
Busia County has seven Sub Counties namely; Teso North, Teso South, Nambale, Matayos, Butula, Funyula and Budalang’i. Residents from those areas are now free to raise an alarm or report any form of emergency, ranging from health to fire incidences.
“It is an emergency centre supposed to address any emergency issues which come up especially in the context of COVID-19. It is something being supported by USAID and other organisations,” said Dr Isaac Omeri, Busia County Chief Officer, Health and Sanitation.
He said the centre has about 10 staff. “As a county government we have an emergency response team which has been there even before this, so this is just reinforcing what we already had on the ground. We have an ambulance in every Sub County. Ideally we are supposed to have these ambulances picking up cases.”
According to Mr. Charles Okendo, GIS official, the call centre is operational 24 hours a day. “The call centre, which is under one command person, is operational 24 hours with officers ready to receive information from the public on fires, diseases or capturing rumors that will help the team ascertain before informing the county government,” he said.
A call by this writer to the centre did yield fruits as it was promptly received by an operator who was cooperative. Neighboring Kisumu County also has a 24-hour-dedicated toll-free line for reporting emergencies. The number is 0800720575.