Is your mobile phone ready for an emergency? 999=112

We are all familiar with ‘999’ as the emergency number in the UK.  112 does the same job and works in other parts of the world as well.

The video below is full of helpful information about how to make the most of a mobile ‘phone in areas where the signal is weak or virtually non-existent.  Key points:

  • 112 or 999 will try to get through on any available carrier, not just your own service;
  • You can normally make a 112 or 999 call from a locked mobile ‘phone.  So even if your own ‘phone is out of action you should be able to use a colleague’s or passer-by’s phone without knowing their security code.
  • Finally a text might be able to get through when the signal is not strong enough to make a call.  But for this to work you need to register your phone first.  This is easily done by:
  1. Text the word ‘register’ to 112 (or 999)
  2. Wait for a reply which tells you to text the word ‘yes’ to 999

You then receive a text to acknowledge your registration and that’s it!  Once registered you can text details of an emergency to 112 or 999.  The text needs to say which service is required, describe the emergency briefly and give as precise details as possible of the location – including any local landmarks which might help.  A ‘phone call will always be better, but if a call can’t get through a simple text could prove to be a life-saver in a remote rural location.

More details about Registration at this link to the emergency SMS website.

This video by Lyle Brotherton contains some very helpful advice about how to use a mobile ‘phone to best advantage in a remote emergency.  It’s worth adding that there are a few apps which can also be used to give your location on a smartphone, like OS Locate which will give your six-figure (100 metre) grid reference.

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A small insight into the big problem of urban policing?

I spent the weekend in Harrow, staying in a normally quiet cul-de-sac.  At 2.20 am on Saturday morning we were awoken by a vicious assault and fight outside.  A call to 999 received no response other than a recorded message to say there was a long queue, and the suggestion to dial 101 instead.  Our subsequent 101 call prompted another recorded message to say that the queue was at least five minutes, with a suggestion to report the incident on a website.  Waiting and waiting, this call eventually timed itself out with the result that neither of our calls – 999 and 101 – had resulted in contact with a real emergency operator.

Meanwhile we had intervened in the nasty fight in any case.  One combatant – apparently the weaker victim of the assault – took shelter in our front garden by hiding behind a wheelie bin, the other shouted the odds from the garden boundary before eventually going on his way.

On Saturday we ‘phoned the local police station, and left a message on the ansaphone which promised a response within 24 hours.  This duly followed on Saturday evening – no doubt just as the Tottenham riots were getting under way.  Stick with 999 rather than 101 was a key message here.

Does this experience provide any insight into the awful riots of the last few days?  Such was the demand at this time on a Saturday morning that we were not able to get help from the Police.  This was ‘just’ a fight, but could it as easily have been a full-scale riot?  And if it was, was this the response of an adequately-resourced emergency service in our capital city?

And what degree of alienation leads men and women and children to feel they can loot and destroy with no feeling or regard or even fear for the consequences for themselves or others?  Add to this, the Nelsonian Blind Eye apparently turned by many others amongst the innocent bystanders.  Grave problems indeed, with deep roots demanding complex solutions.

This blog is about education and the rural economy, and the current problems of lawlessness facing our major cities may seem very remote from this concern.  However, only last week it was reported that theft cost the farming industry £50 million in 2010, according to NFU Mutual Insurers.  One of the problems for rual areas is the thinness of police cover – but is it any better in our urban areas, and where would you rather be during extreme civil unrest: town or country.