TAIPEI - Police and firefighters in New Taipei City have been blamed for the death of a woman because of their alleged reluctance to launch a timely rescue mission that could have prevented her from committing suicide.
Her friend spent 23 minutes making 12 desperate calls, mostly to the authorities in New Taipei City, late Tuesday night before Miaoli County authorities finally responded to her plea and sent rescuers to look for the woman, according to media reports.
Lin Yun-mei, 30, had already drowned in a reservoir by the time rescuers arrived.
The friend, surnamed Chen, said she received a message from another friend telling her that Lin, who was in Miaoli, was determined to commit suicide after a quarrel with her mother.
Chen, who was in New Taipei City at the time, first dialed 110, the police hotline, at 11:19 p.m., Tuesday. New Taipei police, however, told her that they could not respond to cases occurring outside their jurisdiction.
The police then gave her a telephone number and told her to call the Miaoli County police for help. Her call was answered by a security guard, who told her to dial Miaoli County Government's 1999 suicide prevention hotline.
She called several times, but no one answered.
She then made a call to the 119 fire department hotline in New Taipei City, but received the same answer as given by the city police - that they could not act on a case in Miaoli.
They then gave her the number of the Miaoli County fire department. But it was an old number, and nobody answered.
Chen called the New Taipei 119 again and this time managed to obtain the right number. It was already 11:42 p.m. by the time the Miaoli County fire department's responded, while Chen had already made a total of 12 calls.
The New Taipei City police said that Chen only provided Lin's name, address and telephone number, and that they could not determine whether the case in question was an emergency.
The New Taipei City fire department said they did not have an internal transfer system that could have automatically referred the report to the Miaoli County authorities.
In response to the case, authorities promised to review emergency procedures.