NENA: Ignore social-media hoax, dial 911 for U.S. emergencies
National Emergency Number Association (NENA) officials this week reiterated that 911 is the number for people to call for emergency help when in the United States, despite the fact that some social-media chatter is encouraging U.S. residents to dial 112 — the European number for emergency calls — in such situations.
Statements urging those in the U.S. to call 112 in emergencies have been posted on social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter, according to Chris Nussman, NENA’s communications director. Some of the social-media posts have indicated that dialing 112 will result in “preferential treatment” and quicker response, he said.
“Obviously, these things aren’t true, so we’ve taken steps to mitigate this information getting out,” Nussman said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “We’ve posted it to Twitter and created a ‘112hoax’ hashtag and are urging people to retweet us and help us get the word out. In an emergency, 911 is the number to call in the U.S. and Canada.
“We’re really trying to be proactive and get the word out that it’s always 911 and never 112 [for emergency calls in the U.S.].”
If someone in the U.S. does dial 112, some carriers treat it as an emergency call and reroute it to the 911 system. This is because some visitors from Europe instinctively dial the emergency number used in their home countries. However, not all devices and carriers support this functionality, so there is a chance that dialing 112 in the U.S. will result in no one answering the call.
“There is no guarantee that [dialing 112] will work, however,” NENA CEO Brian Fontes said in a statement. “112 provides no special emergency call handling, and should not be used to seek help in an emergency, even if your device or carrier supports it.
“Anyone in the United States or Canada facing a genuine emergency is encouraged to dial 911 and no other number. And never call 112 just to ‘test’ if it works; you will tie up public-safety resources and waste valuable time for people facing real emergencies.”
Ty Wooten, NENA’s director of education and operational issues, echoed this sentiment.
“If you’re lucky enough to have a device where it will change 112 into 911, that’s fine,” Wooten said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “But for anyone who would decide to dial 112 and their device didn’t support that … they would actually create more of a delay [for emergency responders], because that connection isn’t going to be made.
“We’re trying to get out in front of this to educate people that not every device has the ability to change 112 into 911. So, if you’re in North America, you always need to call 911, because that’s the only way you’re going to access the system, not knowing your individual devices and networks.”