Tokyo Fire Department received over 1 mil. emergency calls last year

The Tokyo Fire Department says it last year received a record of more than 1 million emergency calls for help to deal with fires and sudden illness.

Officials say the number of 119 emergency calls was nearly 1.04 million in 2022, exceeding 1 million for the first time since current comparable data became available in 2015.

Ambulances were dispatched in more than 872,000 cases, up about 46,000 from the previous record set in 2019.

The officials say the increased figures are due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a greater number of heatstroke cases in the summer.

They say the total number of emergency calls and ambulance dispatches remains high in the New Year, amid the current eighth wave of the pandemic.

The fire department has increased the number of staff who handle emergency calls.

Senior command center official Fujino Yuzo says emergency calls keep coming, and that he's never experienced anything like it. He says that phones may be busy, but asked people to keep calling. Fujino says he will strive to send emergency responders to people who need them as fast as possible.