SAKOM was established in 1999 within the Ministry of Health as a pilot project. Since then SAKOM has been operational without interruption and has shown tremendous improvement in functions and coverage.
SAKOM has direct and continuous communication and interaction with all 81 provinces. It has been interacting with other sectors, some of which are The Prime Ministry/Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency Office (AFAD), Prime Ministry Search and Rescue(SAR) Department, Turkish Red Crescent Society Disaster Management Center, Turkish Military Forces, Civil Aviation Organization, Navy Search and Rescue Center, Meteorological Organization, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkish Coastal Guards Organization and Civil Society Organizations/Non-governmental organizations and with international organizations such as UNOCHA/INSARAG and WHO . SAKOM interacts with all relevant sectors through two ways communication and interacts with all sectors as and when required.
SAKOM operates on 24/7 basis through telephones, VOIP telephones, facsimiles, HF/VHF radios, and internet. The Center has the dual function of being a call center and control-command center during emergencies/disasters and extraordinary situations.
A back-up system was also put in place to assure continuity in voice and video calls, data transfer and video conferences both at the central and provincial levels just in case a crash happens.
A very important feature of SAKOM is the inclusion of Geographic Information System (GIS) which allows the location and monitoring of the event, the movement of personnel, vehicle and equipment through digital maps.
The center closely monitors the Turkey Central Earthquake Observatory, audio-visual and print media and internet for a probable emergency/disaster, accident, explosion, fire, poisoning, communicable disease outbreak in order to be alert at the earliest possible time. When something arises that would require the attention and decision making of senior authorities they are informed through SMS/ e-mail/phone/satellite calls.
There are certain criteria for informing and alerting the authorities such as: earthquakes that have 4.5 or more with Richter scale domestically and 6.5 off-shore; off-shore tsunamis, floods and volcanic eruptions; traffic accidents resulting in 5 or more deaths and/or 10 or more injuries; domestic fires, avalanches, explosions; acts of terror; mass food, natural gas and carbon monoxide poisoning; communicable diseases; ambulance related news; violence and attempts of violence against health professionals; air/sea vessel accidents; health status of the foreigners who receive health care in Turkey; and lastly the health care of Syrian refugees.
SAKOM has increased the efficiency of services in many ways. The time lag between the onset of emergency/disaster and response has significantly decreased. Just to give an example, during the 2011 Eastern Turkey Van earthquake SAKOM received information within seconds and initiated the response within minutes. Thus, all responsible managers and health professionals were up and running in less than an hour. And within hours the medical rescue and assistance were well in place.
Standard response time for emergency calls was set at 10 minutes in urban, 30 in rural areas. Thanks to efforts of SAKOM this goal was reached in over 90% of cases.