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Belgium to introduce multiple choice emergency number

© Belga

Due to the continuing issue of people dialling the wrong number in an emergency, the authorities have decided to promote just one: 112, but with a multiple-choice menu.

At this time, however, there are still a few technical problems to be resolved, Het Nieuwsblad, De Standaard and Het Belang van Limburg reported on Friday.

More than 6 million calls are handled every year by emergency assistance call centres. About 30% of them were made inadvertently, wrong numbers or the result of ill-considered pranks. Many called the fire brigade when they wanted to contact the police, and vice versa.

To reduce the number of nuisance calls, the Federal Public Service was working on a list of things for which it was not appropriate to call the emergency services when a locksmith or roofer, for example, would do.

In addition, from next year, the temporary number 1722 would be made permanent for all non-urgent calls. An online contact point would also be set up to ask the fire service to dispose of a wasps’ nest for example.

Finally, the authorities were working on a multiple-choice menu to be introduced as soon as 112, the European emergency number, was in operation. A pre-recorded voice would ask the caller to dial 1 for the fire service or an ambulance, and 2 for emergency assistance from the police. There were, however, a few technical problems still to be resolved before the menu goes into operational country-wide.

The Brussels Times