After the outage at Orange, the battle for a single emergency call number is relaunched

The equipment failure that disrupted all emergency numbers on June 2 for long hours, reignited an unresolved debate. Should we review our emergency call system, today distributed mainly between 15 for the SAMU (emergency medical assistance service), 17 for the police, 18 for firefighters and 112 for the number European emergency (which refers mostly to firefighters or the SAMU).

From this unprecedented failure of the systems of the operator Orange, which gave rise to the opening of several investigations following deaths that could be attributed to him, the actors of the rescue and emergency drew conclusions at the opposite ends. Wouldn’t it have been easier to have a single emergency number, and thus a single bypass number, pleaded the firefighters, reaffirming their willingness to go to a single number behind which would be SAMU, police and firefighters. Conversely, would we not be taking a much greater risk by having only one call platform for all emergencies, in the event of future difficulties, we heard from the emergency physicians of SAMU. And each camp to advance its arguments.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Failure of emergency numbers: Orange’s report does not end the questions

Because, behind a technical question, it is a fight between the “reds” (the firefighters) and the “whites” (the SAMU) which has been played out for decades around a future “single number” defended by the representatives of the former, hated in the ranks of the latter. With a central issue: the handling of tens of millions of calls arriving to the various emergency services each year. “Everyone agrees, the subject is complex, but above all there are far too many actors involved, interests at stake, and power issues”, notes an observer.

  • Firefighters defend 112

Overloaded by solicitations of all kinds, firefighters have been calling for years to overhaul the system in order to be able to concentrate on crucial interventions, with a single number, 112. For more readability for citizens, for more efficiency in ” off the hook ”by stopping putting cardiac arrest and the flu in the same queue … “We spend our time transferring calls to each other with the SAMU, dictating addresses to ourselves, it’s not smooth, says Patrick Hertgen, vice-president of the National Federation of firefighters of France, recalling that 85% of the interventions of firefighters concern emergency assistance to people (6% of fires). It would be much more effective to be together, to be able to exchange face to face, to each do our job but next to each other, with an initial operator who would distribute the calls according to the dominant. “

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