European 112 Day

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how one possible answer to “What has the EU ever done for us?” was “Flying cars” (and I still think it’s an awesome answer).

But today, I’d like to mention another great thing which, unfortunately, is also a bit of a secret that only a quarter of all Europeans know about. I’m talking about the common European emergency service number 112, which is being promoted for awareness today on the annual ‘European 112 Day’ (because it’s 11/2, you see.)

A common emergency service number may sound like a horribly dry and technical issue to get enthusiastic about, but think it over for a moment. You’re travelling in a foreign country, and suddenly you need emergency assistance. Maybe you’ve been in a car accident, you or a relative have become seriously ill, or you’ve been the victim of a crime. It’s a stressful situation, and you need help right away. So you have your mobile phone, but which number do you dial? It’s not a situation where you want to waste precious minutes looking for a phone book (do those even exist any more?) or trying to find someone you can ask for help, maybe in a language that you don’t speak very well or at all.

Having a common number means that you can dial 112 everywhere in the European Union, and quite a few other countries outside it, and be connected to an emergency call centre, thereby reducing the response time and saving lives. In addition, such centres will usually have at least English-speaking operators, or sometimes even interpreters for multiple languages available. So there you have another answer to “What has the EU ever done for us?”: “Helping us not die horribly in foreign countries. (And you’re welcome.)”

Unfortunately, as mentioned, awareness of this service is extremely low – on average across the EU, only 26% know that they can use 112 everywhere in the Union, and in certain countries (I’m looking at you, Britain) we’re seeing numbers as ridiculously low as 3%. So spread the word – tell people about it, and maybe share a couple of videos on Facebook or Twitter:

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