The Best of GRReporter
flag_bg flag_gr flag_gb

Only 2% of Greeks are aware of the European emergency number 112

26 February 2013 / 19:02:32  GRReporter
3197 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The majority of Greeks still call the three-digit phone numbers of the police, the emergency and fire departments and they are not even aware of the existence of the single European number as shown by recent statistics.

Despite the campaigns that take place every year, 26% of people on the continent and 34% of those who often visit other European countries know about it. The figures are very low, especially taking into account the fact that the decision to create a single European emergency number was adopted back in 1991.

"Every year, 150 million Europeans move in the European area. The probability of them finding themselves in a situation that threatens their life or safety or that will require them to inform the local authorities of an accident resulted in the need to establish a single emergency telephone number," said the head of the European Commission Representation in Athens Panos Karvounis.

Last year, the operators in Greece helped three thousand people and directed their calls to the service competent to respond to them. The results and actions to inform a larger number of people about the phone number were presented at a press conference on the occasion of the European 112 Day.

"It is crucial that people are aware of the existence of this phone number whose operators forward the calls to the appropriate services according to their type. In the case of a car accident, for example, several services may have to be informed: the emergency and fire services," said Dimitris Piros from the European Emergency Number Association EENA 112.

The chief secretary of civil protection in Greece Patroklos Georgiadis states that the location of people in the need of help had to be established in 96 cases in 2012. In this regard, Panos Karvounis says that the European Commission funded the eCall project. "It is related to the provision of emergency assistance in the event of a car accident in the European Union. The goal is to put in every car a box that will automatically call 112. It will send data on the open airbags, information about the crash and the coordinates of the place of the accident". According to some estimates, this kind of information could reduce the time of intervention of the services by 40% in an urban environment and by 50% in the country.

One of the issues that have not been completely resolved so far is the languages ​​in which the call centre operators respond. In Greece, they respond in Greek, English and French, and the plans of the civil defence service are to increase the number of the languages used. All participants in the conference agree that Greece is a tourist destination and tourists who do not speak English have visited it in recent years. This necessitates the inclusion of other languages, although it is unclear when this will happen.

As stated by Dimitris Piros, the European experience offers several solutions. "In London, for example, call centre operators respond in 173 languages. In Brussels, the calls are forwarded to volunteers, who speak the language of the citizen in need".

Patroklos Georgiadis states that after about a year, the phone number 112 will incorporate all agencies and institutions. "These are the police, the emergency and fire services. Anyway, in 99% of cases, people call in the event of robberies, thefts, fires and traffic accidents". He does not rule out the possibility of non-governmental organizations dealing with missing children and adults, and victims of domestic violence connecting to the phone line as well.

The chief secretary of civil defence states that the videos informing of 112 will be shown on television as well as in cinemas and on social media in order to reach the largest possible number of people.

"Our goal is to inform mainly the people who need help the most: mountain climbers, fishermen, sailors, people who work in remote locations as well as single adults".

Leaflets containing information about 112 are being distributed at Athens airport and in the aircraft of some airlines. Video screens that are placed in the underground and electric train stations as well as at the port of Piraeus also provide information about it.

The purpose of the European Commission is to establish the emergency number 112 as the United States and Canada have established 911. They state that the two lines are connected and when a European citizen is in North America and dials 112, his or her call is immediately transferred to 911. The same happens when an American in Europe calls 911 – he or she is immediately connected to the European 112.

Tags: SocietyEuropean emergency number 112CampaignCall centreLanguages
GRReporter’s content is brought to you for free 7 days a week by a team of highly professional journalists, translators, photographers, operators, software developers, designers. If you like and follow our work, consider whether you could support us financially with an amount at your choice.
You can support us only once as well.
blog comments powered by Disqus