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Posted by portugalpress on August 06, 2018

Portugal’s equivalent of the UK’s 999 emergency response number is in chaos.

For the height of the summer season there are just four operators on duty for half the country, say reports.

Some days this number might stretch to five or six, but most of the time four operators are left to deal with upwards of 10,000 panicked calls per day.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã writes that the ideal number of operatives would be 12, as the average time it takes to process calls is 16 seconds.

Ideally, the time it should take for an emergency 112 call to be answered is no more than six seconds. But, says the paper, callers are having to hang on for as many as three minutes.

In the most dramatic situations, three minutes could mean the difference between life and death.

Said president of the police union ASPP/ PSP Paulo Rodrigues: “We have taken this issue up with the ministry of interior administration but up till now nothing has been done.

“The situation is simply getting worse. There has been a total lack of investment in the nerve centre of the country’s emergency response system”.

Now that CM has brought this drama to the surface things may change.

Says the paper, 60% of calls are for medical help, and 75% are for real emergencies.

Until a few years ago, people reporting fires could call their local stations directly, but now everything has to go through the 112 call centre, manned by police agents from the PSP and GNR.

CM’s story today focuses on 112’s “south central” in Oeiras (near Lisbon) which processes calls for nine districts: Faro (the Algarve), Portalegre, Évora, Santarém, Beja, Castelo Branco, Leiria, Lisbon and Setúbal.