How did European emergency call centres respond to the first peaks of COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic posed many challenges for emergency services and required a great deal of adaptation in a short time frame. Our new report details how PSAPs, primarily in Europe, were impacted by the pandemic and the methods used to deal with the crisis.
Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) all over the world faced a serious health emergency and with this there were countless challenges. An influx of calls to emergency services, the need to introduce new protocols and establish new measures to protect the staff and ensure continuity of operations. In addition, the threat of ransomware attack or the potential need to shut down a PSAP further challenged the situation.
Alternative numbers, such as non-emergency medical numbers and dedicated crisis information hotlines, were a useful tool to reduce the number of emergency calls and prevent the saturation of emergency call centres. Especially in countries with numbers already well-established among the population, like Portugal or Sweden.
Emergency call centres did their utmost to respond to this atypical situation. However, we can still identify improvements to be made in the future.
The aim of this report is to provide insights and recommendations for countries to learn from each other and prepare for future healthcare challenges.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are not only evolving very fast, but they are here to stay – how can Public Safety and Security organisations make the most of them?
As other advances such as connected objects (Internet of Things) make more and more data available for emergency responders, AI and ML have the potential to become the best support for decoding and processing all this information. Thanks to real time analysis of information, speech recognition, protocol developments and much more, AI and ML become a virtual assistant that enables emergency services to react quicker and more efficiently.
Greece’s Prime Minister, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, visited us at the EENA office this morning to announce a few good news. We welcomed a down-to-earth and honest man, far from the caricature depicted in the media. Here are some extracts of his exchange with Gary Machado, EENA Executive Director.
GM: Alexi, nice tie…
AT: I love it invisible like yours, Gary.
GM: You said you had some good news for us?
AT: (sipping Greek coffee prepared by Petros Kremonas) Yes, when it comes to calling the EU emergency number 112 in Greece, we will still be able to know exactly where you are not.
GM: So, how does this service “work”?
AT: When you call for an emergency, our 112 operator requests your location information from the Mobile Operators, who then send it over to us… BY FAX. This year we even improved the service. It only takes 28 minutes and 58 seconds instead of last year’s 34 minutes and 56 seconds in average. Not even 29 minutes – official and verified data.
GM: The EU law requests Member States to ensure that the data is provided “as soon as” the call reaches the emergency services; how do you cope with that?
AT: Well, it’s fairly simple Gary: Every year we publish a new Decree redefining “as soon as”.
GM: Brilliant! And how is this precise data calculated?
AT: That’s easy. Take 4,741,364.84 and divide it by 165,898.
GM: That’s obvious, apologies for asking. What recommendations would you give to us all?
AT: A strict Crete diet is best. If you plan on hiking in Greece: first, remember to dial 112 when needed; second, when the 112 operator picks up the phone, stand still for 28 minutes and 58 seconds so that the Mobile Operator can determine the 10km area you’re calling from.
GM: Got it, very clear. Any planned reforms?
AT: As of now all faxes with caller location information will be introduced from the left and not from the right; that’s a crucial reform I will personally take care of.
GM: We also heard about a revolutionary project…
AT: Indeed. We’ll now offer each and every Greek a pocket size 12 kilogrammes fax machine which can be carried as a backpack. They’ll connect to each other to form the Internet of Fax, fully compliant with Fax neutrality rules. We’re on our way to #DigitaliseEU.
GM: I’m so glad to see Greece back on track with this project!
AT: I understand; I was in the UK lately: their ambulance services get the GPS coordinates of callers within 30 seconds. 30 SECONDS GARY. We should take the time, no need to rush. I just hope we can go back up to 34 minutes instead of 28. I’ll have the Hellenic Statistical Authority on this today.
GM: Alexi, I think I can speak on behalf of the entire EENA team here: congratulations…
AT: Thank you Gary, EENA is doing some awesome work with Advanced Fax Location* and we wouldn’t be anywhere without you.
The transcript of this conversation was recorded by Petros Kremonas. We apologise for any inaccuracies.
Photo taken during the visit of PM Mr. Alexis Tsipras in the EENA office. Photo credits: Ms. Adobe Photoshop
Important disclaimer: This is a humorous piece and is by no means based on real events. The aim of this communication is to draw attention to the largely problematic emergency caller location in Greece. EENA remains available to work with all relevant stakeholders with the view of improving caller location in emergencies in Europe.
Did you know that in Greece an emergency call is located on average after 28 minutes and 58 seconds? Take a look at EENA’s short infographic HERE.
* Advanced Fax Location is an imaginary project, unlike Advanced Mobile Location.