No mobile phone signal in an emergency? Use 112 SMS texts! [+ RIG at APF]

30 October 2015

Many people are still not aware of the useful and potentially life-saving facility to send SMS (‘Short Messaging Service’, ie texts) to the Emergency Services via 112 when there is an inadequate mobile phone signal for a voice call.  It is an effective alternative to using the traditional 999.  

RIG is keen to raise awareness of this service and it has been mentioned in previous posts, eg during Farm Safety Week and the options and procedure for registering and using the 112 SMS service are also summarised in an article on RIG’s Resources page.

If emergency medical help is needed for an injured person you must obviously be able to act quickly and use the most direct channels if you are to minimise any delays in help reaching an incident.

Specialist help may also be needed from the Fire Service, Mountain Rescue, ‘Search and Rescue’ or ‘Air Ambulance’ helicopter teams, due to the type of terrain or access routes. However, this service is not just for remote workers, but anyone, at any time - wherever there is an inadequate mobile signal, and whether at work or not.

The 112 facility was promoted by IOSH Rural Industries Group (RIG) Committee members when we joined with other leading organisations to raise awareness of health and safety precautions, sources of training and advice in the ‘Safety Area’ at the APF (Forestry) Show held at Ragley Hall Estate near Alcester, Staffs last September.

The theme of RIG’s stand was to improve awareness of emergency arrangements and how to contact the Emergency Services - in particular using ‘112’ – and IOSH sponsored a competition* based on the short film ‘Help Me – the secrets of using 112 on a mobile phone in an emergency / accident’, available on YouTube.  

This film gives advice on how to get the best signal for conventional calls but also explains the 112 SMS registration procedure.  112 is the European-wide emergency number but it is also used outside of Europe, including Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, India and Pakistan, in a total of 70 countries.

Based on the surprise expressed by many who visited our stand and watched the film, there is a lot more that should be done to alert people to this essential service.  It is necessary to register your mobile phone number for the 112 SMS service, and it was rewarding that many were persuaded to sign-up to ‘112’ during the Show.

This advice is relevant to anyone visiting ‘the countryside’ and who might find themselves in difficulties and needing urgent medical or other help - not just those working remotely - so RIG urges anyone to watch the film and ‘sign up’ now – just in  case.  

For more information on 112 SMS and how to use the service visit http://emergencySMS.org.uk/ .

Visitors to the IOSH stand at the APF were also encouraged to think about their current arrangements and how to improve their emergency procedures.  As this was a forestry event we focussed on the useful advice given in Forestry Industry Safety Accord (FISA) leaflet FISA 802 Emergency Planning.  However, this leaflet contains useful guidance for any work activity.

* APF Competition Winners

The APF competition prize (appropriate for the event, a large carved wooden bowl) was won by Jill Teasdale, from Northumberland. The second and third prizes (an attractive IOSH key ring) were won by John Freeman (Cardiff) and John Haddon (of UKPN, Cambs).

[** The competition coincided with the Scotland referendum and one wag made our day by pointing out that it would have been 71 countries using 112.  Had the referendum gone the other way, technically ‘David L’ would have been the only 100% correct entry!]