The other week, we went along to a CPR for Babies course run at the local family resource centre. It was pretty good, right up until the end when the instructor suddenly went off the deep end in discussing the emergency 000 and 112 services available on mobile phones. I was pretty outraged by the mistaken and outdated information that was being taught as fact, including the myths that:
- You need to dial 112 if you want to call emergency services when your phone is locked, or out of your operator’s coverage (but within another operator’s coverage).
- If you dial 112, then the operators will be able to pin-point your exact location – the instructor gave the example of being found within the Chadstone car-park.
- Sometimes when you dial 000, the operator will ask you to ring back using 112 because of that feature.
- “They” don’t tell you about 112 because they don’t want to overload the system.
You might have gathered that I think that all of this is complete bollocks. In fact, 112 is simply the European standard number for emergency services (and hence supported on all GSM mobiles), and you should almost always simply use 000 when calling emergency services in Australia.
The facts are:
- All new (and most old) phones sold in Australia support the ability to dial 000 to get to emergency services, even when the phone is locked, the SIM is missing, or you aren’t in the right operator’s coverage area. The feature you need in your phone for this to work is for it to be a “Phase 2+” GSM handset or newer. In general, if your phone has a camera, it is new enough.
- Calling 112 or 000 will take you to exactly the same service centre. You don’t pick up special features along the way by calling 112. Unfortunately, the service centre will be able to locate you only very coarsely – effectively to the state of Australia you’re calling from. They won’t be able to know which suburb you’re in, let alone which part of the Chadstone carpark. You will need to tell the operator your location.
- You will never be asked by the emergency services operator to hang-up and ring back using a different number.
- The number 112 is not secret, and is listed on the ACMA website, the Telstra website, and the Triple Zero website. Plus, it has its own Wikipedia page.
Note that 112 does not work on fixed or VoIP phones. The only cases when dialling 112 on your mobile phone is going to be worth a try in Australia are when 000 isn’t working for you and (i) the phone was bought overseas, or (ii) the phone is really old. Even in those cases, 112 may not work either – unfortunately a mobile phone network should not be relied on as the sole means of getting help in an emergency.
5 thoughts on “Dial M for Mistake”
I assume you were so outraged at you got to your feet, fists clenched in rage, saying coldly as you stood “I can’t let this go on,” took a deep breath (which served as a tension building pause) then let fly with a the above facts.
Indeed, that’s exactly what I did in my mind. :)
I *was* getting ready to correct the instructor when Kate bustled me off before I could make a scene. But vengence is mine, as when they hear about my blog post they will be mortally ashamed. Or perhaps the impact of this blog is, again, just in my mind.
Surely it was a case of misinformation – the instructor believed that to be true. So constructive re-education would be in order rather than anger – and surely the family resource centre (or whoever provides the instructors’ training) should be told they’re putting out wrong info.
I did look around and try to find an email address that I could send that info to, but apparently not everyone’s on email yet (and I’m not likely to write a letter). The outrage stems from the fact that the mistakes were in the context of potentially life-saving information. So, my attempt to correct the mistake is to publish the right info, and hope that people stumble across it. Unfortunately, as shown by http://snopes.com, the wrong info has a strange habit of surviving better than the right info.
C’mon, facts are boring. Somebody calmly explaining how it really works will never be as interesting as somebody glancing around before leaning closer and whispering “They don’t want you to know this….”
Maybe what is needed is a clever way to spread the correct information in a way that sounds like the deepest of conspiracies :)