On Thursday 25th July, in the Romanian city of Caracal, a 15-year-old girl called the 112 emergency number 3 times. She reported that she had been abducted and asked for urgent help. That help did not arrive until 19 hours later, at which time she was presumed dead. The suspect later told police that he killed the girl, as well as another teenager.
EENA is devastated by this tragic news and by the heart-breaking transcripts that were recently released of the emergency calls. We are shocked and deeply saddened that help did not reach the person that needed it most. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims.
This tragedy brings into question the functioning of 112 in Romania, including how emergency calls are located. For many years, EENA tried to urge public authorities in Romania to deploy Advanced Mobile Location (AML), but no concrete action has been taken to implement this life-saving technology. Similarly, several journalists were also contacted and made aware of the benefits of AML, as well as the lack of action in the country. No interest to investigate was shown.
While the devastating story in Caracal has sparked debate about how emergency calls are handled in Romania, EENA would like to give a reminder of the work of the authorities over the last years to make sure that Romanians benefit from a modern 112 system: all the emergency control rooms are interconnected, people with disabilities can contact emergency services and a public warning system has recently been introduced. Unlike several other Member States, Romania is fully compliant with EU legislation on emergency communications.
We should learn from this tragedy and push for continued efforts to modernise the 112 system in Romania. This must not happen again. Although we cannot be sure that AML could have been used in this particular case, as it is dependent on the type of phone used, we must move to deploy this technology. EENA welcomes the actions taken by the authorities in the last days to ensure the implementation of this technology. Reforms must be led by the most competent people and EENA would like to express concern over the high turnover of staff following the Caracal story, which could potentially lead to stagnation and a lack of progress of the necessary reforms.
To keep the citizens of Romania safe, all steps should be taken to move these reforms forward as soon as possible. This means that all actors of society need to make public safety a priority, not only when tragedies happen but on a permanent basis. This needs to involve public authorities, the counter-power of the media and constructive support from all the political spectrum.