IT SEEMS the Slovak counterpart to the American 911 emergency line could use some life-support itself. On one weekend in January, many ambulance crews complained that they were slowly running out of supplies, thanks to new distribution rules introduced by the Health Ministry.
Once that problem was resolved, the 112 emergency line crashed in the Žilina Region, forcing the Interior Ministry to release a list of regular cell-phone numbers that people were to call when in need. And then finally came news that during that system collapse a woman died – not because she couldn’t reach an ambulance. Doctors were informed. But current legislation doesn’t allow them to leave their stations without explicit commands from the operation centre – whose line was dead.
So within just a week we saw a failure of leadership, technical infrastructure, legislation and individual decision-making.
So far, no one seems to be accepting responsibility for the absurd situation – Health Minister Ivan Uhliarik refused to even acknowledge there was a problem with supplies, the state blamed Slovak Telekom for the dead line, the firm in turn blamed everything on “human error”, and ambulance crews said going out without explicit orders would mean sanctions against them.
Wondering who to call in a situation when the emergency system is showing signs of serious illness makes no sense. Even if there was a number, it would not work; the person on the other end would not care; and there would be some law forbidding him to do anything anyway.
24. Jan 2011 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila