The 112 EMERGENCY myth busted!

ByWes WhitworthAugust 20, 2020
The 112 EMERGENCY myth busted!

We’ve seen a rather worrying trend on social media recently and thought we should bust the myths surrounding the 112 emergency number.

As we all know, social media is fraught with misinformation and ‘opinions’, so usually we try to leave well enough alone, and let those who want to get on a soapbox spray their pages and news feeds unabated. More often than not, the collective groups will right the misinformed or over-opinionated rhetoric.

With that said, there was a recent post on a caravanning page, where they were talking about being able to contact emergency services and give GPS coordinates for where the help needs to be sent. All was going well, with some good information and assistance there for the newer caravanners and uninitiated, until I saw a comment which declared that dialling 112 from your mobile will get you in touch with 000 emergency, without any mobile reception.

112 Emergency

Now despite my experience working at a major telco back when I was at uni, and two decades in the Rural Fire Service, I know that this is absolutely not the case. Moreover, after about 30 seconds on Google, it’s blatantly obvious to those willing to put in a touch of research, that this is not the case, and that it appears this is a common misconception and issue that emergency services have come across a little too frequently.

So, to set the record straight, here is an excerpt from the Australian Government website

“112 is a secondary emergency number that can be dialled from mobile phones in Australia. Special capabilities, including roaming, once only existed when dialling 112, however mobile phones manufactured since January 2002 also provide these capabilities when dialling Triple Zero (000) to access the Emergency Call Service.

There is a misconception that 112 calls will be carried by satellite if there is no mobile coverage. Satellite phones use a different technology and your mobile phone cannot access a satellite network.

Important – if there is no mobile coverage on any network, you will not be able to reach the Emergency Call Service via a mobile phone, regardless of which number you dialled.”

So please, if you’re reading this and this is news to you, keep it in the back of your mind. Or feel free to share this around your social media circles. The greatest concern we all must have, is someone taking poor advice per the screenshot above, and someone new to caravanning deciding not to take a satellite communicator (whether a phone, sleeve, or messenger) or PLB (personal locator beacon) when remote touring, on the belief that they’ll just be able to call the 112 emergency number no matter where they are.

Back before 2002, you needed to dial 112 if your network (say Optus) didn’t have reception, but another network (say Telstra) did. Any phone made after 2002 will allow you to call 000 and as long as there is reception there from a network provider, you’ll be put through. If there is no reception from anyone, you’ll not be able to call for help.

Hopefully, with this info we’ll be able to stave off tragedy if someone is not equipped to be able to call for help when they really need it.