Emergency number

Most Europeans still do not know they can call 112 anywhere in the EU to contact the police, fire brigade or an ambulance.

A recent survey shows that just 25 per cent of Europeans know they can call 112 in case of emergency – nearly two decades after the number was introduced.

The EU-commissioned survey also reveals that most Europeans support having a single EU-wide emergency number but feel not enough has been done to make people aware of it.

In response to the findings, the commission has written to EU countries urging them to promote the number more actively.

The hotline is free and works from any phone – fixed line or mobile. It puts people in touch with an operator who will alert the appropriate service – police, fire or ambulance.

All 112 operators are required to speak English, however, language continues to be a problem. One in 10 respondents who had called 112 abroad complained they had difficulty communicating with the operator. In most cases, the calls were handled in the language of the country they were visiting.