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Mobile Phones and Emergency numbers

After all the discussions we have had regarding the Emergency Markers (in Lerderderg Gorge State Park) I thought it would be a good time to discuss mobile phones and the correct emergency numbers to be used by walkers, climbers and skiers.

These days, in the event of an emergency, people undertaking outdoor activities in the bush will have access to a mobile phone. The primary national emergency number in Australia is 000. In Victoria the emergency service dispatch and call-taking for Police, metropolitan Ambulance, and both rural and metropolitan fire services, is handled by the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA). You can check out their web page here: ESTA

What most people don’t realise is that the international emergency telephone number for GSM mobile phone networks is the number 112. This means that here in Australia we can dial either 000 or 112 (if you are using a GSM or 3G phone). In an emergency a GSM mobile phone owner should dial 000 first. If no service is available then dial 112. This may (depending upon the model of your phone) connect to whichever network is available in your location. Of course if there are no carriers in your location then neither 000 nor 112 will work.

In most newer GSM phones the number 000 is programmed into the firmware as an emergency number. This means that dialing the number 000 will provide exactly the same features as the number 112. The phone will connect to any available GSM network carrier (not just your own) to reach the Emergency Call Service. If you own a 3G phone, dialling 000 will connect you with the Emergency Call Service utilising whichever carrier is necessary.

The difference between GSM and 3G is fairly simple. GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) is used by about 80% of the worlds phones and is the current standard. The newer 3G (Telstra call it Next G) is the next generation of mobile technology that will eventually replace the now aging GSM system. The 3G system is has much faster data transfer speeds and allows for such features as video calling and faster download speeds. Unfortunately 3G is not backwards compatible with GSM.

Note that even if the keypad is locked, dialing 112 on a GSM mobile phone will connect you to the 000 Emergency Call Service. You can also connect to the 000 Emergency Call Service if the phone has no SIM card or if the SIM has not been validated. And just so you know, you cannot contact the 000 Emergency Call Service with SMS text messaging.

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