The European Commission has recently launched a study on the "Access to emergency services in the Mediterranean Partner Countries and the use of the single European emergency call number 112". The study aims to assess safety solutions available to citizens travelling, living and working in the Mediterranean area. Results will be shared with the Civil Protection Authorities of the Partner Countries in view to discussing possibilities to improve the access and the organization of emergency services in the region.
In case of emergency it is important to react quickly. Fixed and mobile telephones are the best means to rapidly access emergency services, yet it is necessary to know the local emergency call number. At present Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria and Tunisia use different emergency call numbers. This could expose foreign visitors travelling in these countries to a risk of delay in calling the emergency services.
112 is the single emergency telephone number for the European Union. It was established 1991 and all EU member states have reported in 2010 that the 112 is now in use. European citizens in distress situations are able to call the 112 and get through to the emergency services in all Member States. Thus, anyone travelling within the Union has to remember only one number and this guarantees a quicker and more efficient intervention.
Today the number 112 is widely used across the Mediterranean region both in the EU, in some candidate countries (such as Croatia, Turkey), as part of their approximation to the EU acquis and in a few Mediterranean Partners.
Expanding the access to 112 to the entire region could provide citizens and visitors with increased safety in emergency situations and could be beneficial to South-South as well as to North-South exchanges.
In the EU, the single European emergency call number '112' is not intended to replace the national numbers. Some Member States have introduced 112 as their main emergency number, while in most others 112 operates alongside other national emergency numbers. Each Member State is responsible for the organisation of its own emergency services and the response to 112 and national emergency calls. People calling 112 are connected to an operator. Depending of the organisation of the national civil protection system, the operator will either deal with the request directly, or transfer it to the appropriate emergency service (police, ambulance, etc.). In many cases, operators are able to answer in more than one language.
Links: The 112 emergency number website