112 (emergency telephone number)

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112 is the emergency telephone number used in the European Union and various other countries for reaching emergency services (ambulance, fire, and police). It is equivalent to other emergency numbers like 911 in the United States and Canada, 000 in Australia, and 999 in the United Kingdom. The number 112 is part of the GSM standard, meaning it can be dialed on mobile phones worldwide, regardless of the local emergency number.

History[edit | edit source]

The adoption of 112 as a pan-European emergency number was initiated by the European Council in 1991, with the aim of providing a single number for travelers to call across the EU. The implementation across member states was gradual, with the number gaining full coverage and recognition over the following decades.

Operation[edit | edit source]

When an individual dials 112, the call is routed to the nearest emergency call center, where the operator can dispatch the appropriate emergency services such as ambulance, fire brigade, or police. The system is designed to identify the location of the call, aiding in the quick response of emergency services. In many countries, operators are able to communicate in multiple languages to assist callers from different backgrounds.

Advantages[edit | edit source]

The primary advantage of the 112 number is its universality within the countries that adopt it. For travelers within the EU and participating countries, remembering a single emergency number that can be dialed free of charge is a significant benefit. Additionally, the implementation of 112 supports the idea of a unified and accessible emergency response system across Europe.

Challenges[edit | edit source]

Despite its widespread adoption, the effectiveness of 112 can be hindered by factors such as caller location accuracy, language barriers between callers and operators, and the varying capabilities of local emergency services. Efforts are ongoing to improve the system, including the development of advanced mobile location (AML) technology to better locate callers and multilingual support in call centers.

Global Adoption[edit | edit source]

Beyond the European Union, several other countries and territories have adopted 112 as an emergency number, either as the primary contact or alongside other numbers. This global adoption underscores the importance of having a standardized emergency contact number that can be easily remembered and accessed by anyone, anywhere.

See Also[edit | edit source]

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD