11 February 2009

MEP Kathy Sinnott marks European 112 Day

Today - February 11th, 2009 - marks the European 112 Day (11/2), which aims to inform all EU citizens about the European emergency telephone number 112.

More and more EU member states now organise a 112 Day on that same date, such as Finland, Romania, the Netherlands, Poland and Denmark. Here in Ireland, however, we have no time for such sensible things. We are much too occupied with ruining our country and tearing apart the social fabric of the Irish nation.

So while many people in Europe pause for a moment to reflect on better emergency services, the Irish government is dealing with emergency legislation and bailing out our failed banks with € 7 billion of taxpayers' money, but without doing anything about the rotten and deeply corrupt structure of these evil institutions, which are major causes and contributors to our massive and unprecedented economic and financial crisis.

Fortunately there is the independent MEP Kathy Sinnott (photo), who represents Munster in the European Parliament.
She did not forget and hosted a press conference in Brussels this morning, to mark the first EU-wide European 112 Day.

The campaign to establish an EU-wide 112 emergency telephone system has been under way for quite some time.
112
is compatible with all phone systems. The idea is to have a European call centre which can accommodate all the European languages, plus others like Mandarin (Chinese), Filipino Tagalog and Russian.
When someone dials 112 in an emergency from anywhere in Europe, the exchange can identify the location of the nearest emergency response system. If the caller's language is different from that of the working language of the response system, then the 112 call centre can provide translation.

Speaking this morning, Kathy Sinnott said: "I congratulate those who have been working so hard for the past 17 years to promote 112. In Ireland, the emergency number is still 999, like in Britain."
So it appears that in 90 years of Irish independence we did not even manage to drop the old UK emergency number...

"Would an Italian - for example - who is used to dialling 113 for police, fire and ambulance or 118 for medical emergencies know to ring 999 when he is in Ireland?" Kathy Sinnott asked. "The answer is most likely: No. This is where awareness of 112 comes into play."

During the press conference, Ms. Sinnott outlined a number of important details.

"Last year," she explained, "I wrote a report for the European Parliament on protection against injury and promotion of safety. What I learned while researching this report is that people are most in danger of injury during times of leisure, and especially on holidays. For example, a Hungarian tourist breaks his leg while hill walking in West Cork. He can free-phone 112, speak to someone in Hungarian who will put the call through 999 to reach Bandon Garda Station and translate for the Garda on duty. If we were to develop this technology further, translation from 112 could remain available to the tourist even when he reaches hospital."

"Another point I would like to mention is the use of 112 for people who are trafficked to another country against their will. With this very simple number, people deprived of their normal freedom, if they were able to get even a moment alone with a telephone, could dial 112, speak to somebody in their own language and get help."

"This is a real tool which could be very effective, especially in today's multi-cultural society. Sadly, at present only 27% of Irish people are aware of 112. The Irish government have a legal responsibility to promote awareness and use of 112 through the 2002 Directive on universal service and user's rights relating to electronic communications networks and services. I call on our government to put this Directive into practice and start saving lives - now."

One can only hope that someone in Government Buildings was listening to Kathy Sinnott and that after seven years of forgetting the matter one of the many ministers can be found to implement it. I presume they cannot all be busy with bailing out failed banks and organise cosy retirements for corrupt bankers and senior civil servants.

The Emerald Islander

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