As COVID-19 made its way into Europe, the Italian region of Lombardy found itself heavily impacted. In a short period of time, emergency call centres faced high volumes of calls that put an unprecedented pressure on call handlers and ambulance dispatching.

How did the regional emergency response organisations managed to quickly adapt to this unprecedented situation?

The task was undertaken by Lombardy’s AREU (Agenzia Regionale Emergenza Urgenza), which manages both the 112 PSAPs as the first level citizen contact point and the ambulance PSAPs, as the second level dispatching centres for medical rescue.

Among other actions, triage procedures for 112 call-takers were swiftly reconsidered: protocols changed and introduced new call procedureing that allowed to redirect non-emergency calls related to COVID-19 to a dedicated hotline. As the region approached its peak and new hotbeds appeared, efforts continued towards relieving pressure from ambulance PSAPs.

Temporary Support PSAPs were then created to distribute cases with different priorities and to move to an optimised triage procedure at call-taking level, which enabled ambulance PSAPs to dedicate themselves to the most critical cases.

We explore these and other actions in a new document produced by AREU together with EENA, where you can find a look on best practices and lessons learnt on adapting emergency response processes during a crisis.

Access the document “COVID-19: Triage procedure in Lombardy Region, Italy”

On 27 March 2020, we presented a unique interview with Dr Alberto Zoli, General Manager of AREU, where he shared the lessons learnt from the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, as well as suggestions for other 112 and public safety organisations in Europe as the outbreak advanced:


During the past weeks, EENA has hosted a series of webinars dedicated to the impact of COVID-19 on emergency services and how these are responding to the challenge:

  • Republic of Korea’s response to COVID-19, presented on 14 May. Access the recording and materials here.
  • EENA & Twitter: Crisis Communications Webinar, presented on 8 May. Access the materials here.
  • Austrian emergency medical calls during COVID-19, presented on 4 May. Access the recording and materials here.
  • Role of tech platforms around COVID-19, presented on 30 April.
  • How disinformation & cyberthreats affect emergency services during COVID-19 outbreak, presented on 6 April. Access the recording and materials here.
  • Data and strategies on emergency calls & public warning during COVID-19 outbreak, presented on 27 March. Access the recording and materials here.