ATHENS – It took years, but Greece on Jan. 1 began operation of the European Union’s 112 emergency number that can be called for help and also will be used to send text message warnings for evacuations, which wasn’t available for the deadly July 23, 2018 wildfires.
Those killed 102 people and a chaotic failed response by the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, which didn’t have the number working, was blamed for the death toll and suits are still pending as well as prosecutions of government officials.
The General Secretariat for Civil Protection, which will be responsible for the service, said the system also provides for an automatic location identifier of a caller to a control center at the fire brigade’s operations center in the northern suburb of Halandri, where 100 people will be working.
Every shift includes an operator from telecoms provider OTE and liaison officers from the Hellenic Army, Greek Police (ELAS), the Coast Guard, and the ambulance service EKAB, said Kathimerini in a report, and operators will respond in Greek, English or French.
The European emergency number is free and can be reached by landlines as well as mobiles around the clock, every day of the week, from Greece and any EU country, as well as Switzerland.
The number works with any mobile network and if the area where the call is made from is not covered by the caller’s mobile network, the call is made through other mobile networks covering that region.