The ongoing energy crisis has sparked concerns across Europe that citizens may experience electricity outages this winter.
Governments, and other relevant stakeholders at national level, are planning to ensure the least possible impact on critical infrastructure and services (e.g., hospitals, industrial plants, police services, and food production facilities) should such blackouts occur. EENA understands, following consultation with European emergency services, that most public safety answering points (PSAPs) are already designated as critical infrastructure, meaning that every reasonable measure will be taken to ensure that they are not affected by power outages.
However, access to emergency services relies on telecoms infrastructure, which will not necessarily be marked as critical infrastructure. Cell towers for mobile communications and local exchanges for fixed line communications could therefore be impacted. Recent media reports suggest that it may not be possible to guarantee uninterrupted power to these facilities particularly if those interruptions are for prolonged periods. This could affect access to emergency services for some citizens when needed. In simple words, it means that citizens may not be able to contact emergency numbers in the case of emergencies such as cardiac arrests or car accidents. It also means that civil protection authorities may not be able to warn all of the population about an imminent threat or natural disaster through public warning systems.
EENA is deeply concerned about the consequences of such blackouts on public safety. Continuity of access to emergency services must be safeguarded in the event of electricity outages. EENA calls on involved stakeholders to take every necessary measure to ensure access to emergency services.