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    HealthPower cuts: 112 will be the only emergency number reachable in the...

    Power cuts: 112 will be the only emergency number reachable in the event of load shedding

    Power cuts: 112 will be the only emergency number reachable in the event of load shedding

    In its circular on the measures to be taken in the event of power cuts this winter, the government specifies that 112 will be the only emergency number that can be reached during so-called “load shedding” periods. In fact, people residing in rural areas or not having a laptop could be completely deprived of telephone contact with the emergency services.

    Help could be more difficult to reach this winter due to possible power cuts. This is what the government announces in a circular intended for the prefects within the framework of preparations for a winter during which “load shedding”, that is to say interruptions of punctual electricity supplies decided could take place in Metropolitan France.

    In areas affected by power cuts, “users will not be able to contact the emergency services (emergency call numbers 15, 17, 18, 115, 196). In these situations, the use of 112 will be a palliative”, can we read.

    The inaccessible numbers correspond to Samu (15), the emergency police (17), the fire brigade (18), social emergencies (115) and rescue at sea (196).

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    The highlighting of 112, the “European emergency call number”, is due to the fact that this number is “accessible regardless of the operator, therefore with a much higher chance that the call will be routed, as soon as the emission zone is covered by at least one operator”, explains the government.

    This number also has the characteristic of being, as its name suggests, common to all the countries of the European Union. It is also used by other non-EU countries, including several outside Europe, as explained by the media Tout l’Europe.

    Risks for rural or mobile-less populations

    However, 112 cannot be a panacea. It is particularly problematic for people living in rural areas. Indeed, the 112 has wide and reliable coverage because it allows the person dialing it to be connected to the nearest relay antenna, even if it does not belong to its operator. However, these relay antennas are not part of the priority infrastructures and it could therefore be that none of them are available in a given area during load shedding.

    “In rural areas, [il y a] a very significant risk that you cannot have 112 at the end of your phone”, therefore warns Marc Noizet, emergency doctor in Mulhouse and president of Samu-Urgence de France, guest of BFMTV.

    There are, comparatively, “few risks” in urban areas according to him. It is expected that the prefects will have access to a “mapping of the areas which would not be covered by 112”, indicates the government circular.

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    Another public at risk: people without mobile phones. If they have a landline phone, they won’t be able to use it if it’s a power-only phone. Only fixed telephones with a battery will be able to operate, subject to connection to a relay antenna.

    To prevent people from finding themselves without an emergency aid solution, the government is asking the prefects to “encourage the population to ensure a presence alongside an elderly or vulnerable person” but also to ensure that agents are present in the “rights of way of public emergency and security services (firefighters, police, gendarmerie, municipal police…)” to allow an appeal in person.

    In this sense, the regional health agencies will also have to send a list of “high-risk patients” to electricity suppliers so that they can do what is necessary to ensure that they are connected to the network at all times.

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    In addition, the government orders the prefectures to “physically deploy on the ground means to maintain radio coverage in areas without coverage (satellite means, ADRASEC devices (Departmental Associations of Radio Amateurs in the Service of Civil Security), etc.)”

    An upcoming 112 promotional campaign

    Another problem for the government is that the number 112 is little used in France. In 2019, only 9% of emergency calls were calls to this number according to a report by the European Commission, the lowest share in the European Union, while other countries have made it their emergency number unique as Denmark, the Netherlands or Portugal.

    The circular therefore provides that “the State will provide specific communication to publicize and encourage the use of 112”.

    However, the start date of this campaign and its terms have not yet been announced.

    Source: BFM TV

    Awutar
    Awutar
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