With more of us travelling around Europe every year, it's reassuring to know that one phone number covers all emergencies in every country. Every second counts in an emergency – whether it's a stroke, car crash or knife attack – the sooner help arrives, the better.
Dialing 112 from a land line or mobile phone anywhere in Europe will connect you to an operator who will either deal with your call directly or transfer it to the appropriate emergency service. In either case, the response should be the same as with a national emergency number.
Work is ongoing to ensure all call centres are fully equipped to deal with the staggering number of calls; 100 million medical emergencies recorded in Europe each year. Each country's emergency services (ambulance, fire brigade, police) must be linked to the call centres, and investment is needed in technology to locate callers precisely, as this is critical for a rapid response.
Another challenge is ensuring that people know the number and use it correctly. Currently, 60% of all calls are hoaxes, which slows down response times considerably.
New technology is on the way to enable cars to automatically dial 112 in the event of a crash. The EU would like all new cars to be equipped with this automatic emergency-call technology (eCall) from 2009. However, for this to work, emergency services would need to receive and process the car’s location report.
Find out more at http://www.eena.org