Calling For Help

112 the New 999? Have you and your co-workers registered your mobiles phones for 112?

Communication is a vital part of Emergency Response. For travelling workers and especially for lone workers or teams working in high risk or remote areas, being able to make a call, may make all the difference.

In this short article we will outline the benefits and process for getting your mobile registered on the 112 network. What is it? Why use it? How to register? We will also look at top tips for getting the most from your mobile when you really need it.

We are all familiar with 999 in the UK, but there is an alternative – 112. With the added benefit of working across the whole of the EU and in 70 countries around the word, 112 has some unique advantages over just 999 when you need to get help using your mobile.

Modern mobile phones have the ability to search across networks to find a connection – so if you’re with Vodafone and
there’s no coverage or the network is busy, your phone will search all the other providers too and make a connection if possible. This is fine for connecting up to make an outgoing call, but often the emergency services want to ring back and they can’t do that if your phone has jumped a network to make the call.

112 has the advantage that if your network (or any other our phone finds) is busy, your emergency call will be prioritised and jump ahead of any queuing connections. You can dial 112 on anyone’s phone, so if your phone is damaged or battery flat, you can pick up any phone – they are all pre-programmed to allow you to make the call. You don’t need to “unlock” a phone, it will also go out on a pay as you go mobile that is out of credit. On some modern phones it will even call if there is no sim card present!. Basically, if there is power and you can access a key pad, you can attempt the call.

A big advantage of 112 though is that you can use it to text the emergency services. Originally designed for the deaf,
this useful facility is also highly relevant for mobile and remote area workers. Anybody can register their phone and its really simple to do. Once the phone is registered you can communicate by text message, which is much more likely to get through if there is a weak or intermittent signal.

To register (and why wouldn’t you?) simply send a text message with the word “register” to 112. You will get an automatic reply back within a minute. Simply read the reply and then follow the instructions to complete the process – just reply back with the word “yes”. That’s it, your done, your phone is now registered and you have increased your chance of getting the message out when every second counts.

When making a call outdoors, especially after an accident, you might be quite excited and rushed. This can make it difficult for the operator to hear and understand what you are saying, so calm down and speak slowly and clearly. If it is windy, turn with your back to the wind to protect the microphone from wind noise. If the site is noisy (like on a busy road) try to move off or shelter behind something to reduce the noise.

If you are in a remote area, often your phone wont have such good coverage. The little connection bars displayed on your phone are a marketing trick – they mean nothing and there is no common standard! Either your phone has a connection or it doesn’t. Try to stay still while you call, moving around may disconnect the call if there is only one mast within range of your cell.

In rural areas, stay clear of trees and out of any hollows. Attempt a call and wait for 1 minute to see if it connects (remember it may be scanning for other networks). If no connection is made, turn 180 degrees and try again – if there
is only one cell mast, by turning round you negate the possibility of your phone signal trying to pass through your head to reach the mast (there may not be much inside your head, but every little helps!).

In the countryside, this is where the text messaging really wins out. Text messages are transmitted on a different bandwidth to the main voice connection, so there’s a lot more capacity. Texts are also sent as micro burst of data that take a millisecond to transmit. Much better chance with a text than a voice call. If your text gets through, the emergency services will respond with a confirmation text within a couple of minutes. Remember, you’re on your own, until you have confirmation that they have got your message and are responding.

It’s a great idea to put your mobile phone into a water proof bag if you are working outside and essential if you are working near water. We recommend you do the same with your vehicle keys too as most modern vehicles have immobilisers and rely on electronic keys, which wont work once you have sat on them in the bottom of a water filled ditch.

Keep your phone charged up and / or take spare battery or mobile charger pack – there are several available now. You can even get little mini solar chargers (not that the sun ever shines in the UK).

There are lots of phone tracker apps you can get for mobiles now and these can be a great aid for mobile workers as the boss can keep a good eye on you! Really useful for those days when something has gone wrong and someone is missing or late.

Another top tip is to save a record in your contacts on your phone under the title “ICE”. This stands for “In Case of Emergency”. Put the name and contact numbers for who you would want the emergency services to call if they found you dead or unconscious. Usually either friends, family member or lovers (may be the same person!). It’s amazing how hard the police have to work to identify people we pull out of the water for them, so make their job easier and helpt to get the right people informed about your predicament.

It’s worth knowing where you are, in case you need to tell people fast! Most modern phones have a GPS system on them, but note down your location on paper when you get to your work site, so you know where you are if the phone fails.

Remember, with increasing risk and remoteness, maintaining communications becomes more challenging and more important. When risk assessing your work, think about how you might communicate in an emergency and what your fall back plan is.

112 is a great step forward and we highly recommend you register your phone. In fact we recommend you tell everyone
to do so, work colleagues, suppliers, customers, family and friends. Send them this article link and encourage them to
register. After all, most emergency calls are for loved ones and people we know, not for strangers – make you think eh?

If you found this useful, please pass it on. If you have any subjects you would like to suggest for these regular
bulletins, get in touch. Thanks for reading. Stay safe.