Everyone in Europe needs to be able to call for free for the assistance of the fire department, the medical emergency services and the police through the unique emergency number 112.
In Belgium the decision was taken that the introduction of this European emergency number means a change on four levels:
- all operators in the emergency centres need to get a federal statute (except for the detached firemen and the dispatchers of the police)
- all emergency centres need to be supported by the same technological platform
- there will be one emergency centre per province and one in the district of Brussels Capital. The operators and call takers in the EC112/100 and the CIC 101 work from the same location, because of which they can exchange information more easily.
- multidisciplinary call takers will over time take all emergency calls after which they transfer the necessary information to the dispatchers of the corresponding emergency services (the emergency centres 112/100 en 101 fuse further together step by step)
Meanwhile all operators and call takers in the emergency centres have the same federal statute and work at the emergency centres 112/100 and 101 in four provinces (Namur, East-Flanders, West-Flanders and Flemish Brabant) from the same building and with the same technology.
The switch to the common CAD (Computer Aided Dispatching) technology of “ASTRID” turns out to be a bigger challenge than initially thought. Therefore first a number of problems are solved and improvements are provided before the other EC112/100 switch to the same technological platform. Meanwhile they continue to work with the dispatch technology AEG/CityGIS.
The project 112 is a realization of the Federal Public Service Home Affairs, the FPS Public Health and the integrated police.
Optimization of the functioning of the emergency centres
The Directorate 112 of the Directorate-General Civil Security continually works, together with its operators and call takers, the Federal Public Service Public Health and the integrated police, to modernize and optimize the functioning of the emergency centres. Important projects are for instance making the emergency number 112 available for deaf and hearing-impaired persons and the project eCall.
Emergency number for hearing-impaired persons
The Federal Public Services Public Health and Home Affairs and the integrated police have made sure that the emergency centres can also be reached by SMS. This service is free and reserved for deaf persons, hearing impaired persons and persons with a speech impediment.
Currently it is not possible to send an SMS to the traditional emergency numbers 112, 100 and 101, but it is possible to send an SMS to specific numbers that can be requested by e-mail or SMS. Visit www.112.be/sms for more information.
eCall is an electronic safety system automatically calling the emergency services in case of a road accident, even if driver and passengers are unconscious.
Europe made the eCall mandatory in the new cars by 2017. On 14 January 2013, Belgium has thus joined the Harmonised eCall European Pilot project (HeERO) where several EU member states prepare for the introduction of this European system.
In practice, the eCall alarms sometimes go off even though it is not a real emergency or when the intervention of the emergency services is not necessary. In order to avoid the emergency centres to be overloaded with this type of calls, Belgium examines a concept with a prefiltering of the eCalls. Because of this filtering, only real emergency calls will be forwarded to the emergency centres. As long as no pan-European eCall standard is set and no prefiltering can be applied, private service providers in Belgium do not get access to the emergency centres.