112 is French for 911

Actually, 112 is the basic emergency number throughout the European Union, but not everyone seems to comprehend “emergency” as “Emergency!” For instance:

French authorities have opened an enquiry into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry.

Naomi Musenga, 22, dialled France’s emergency dispatch number on December 29 last year complaining of strong stomach pains.

In a recording of the three-minute call obtained only recently by her family, Musenga’s voice can barely be heard as says “It hurts all over” and “I’m going to die …”

“You’re going to die, certainly, one day just like everyone else,” the female operator responds. She is also heard mocking Musenga’s complaints with a colleague, before telling the victim to call a doctor for a house visit.

Five hours later Musenga again calls the emergency services, which finally dispatch the ambulance that brings her to a hospital in Strasbourg, eastern France. But she died shortly after arriving from a heart attack.

Perhaps inevitably, this incident set off calls for More Money:

The circumstances surrounding Musenga’s death have reignited calls for increased funding and resources for France’s health system.

“In 1988, eight million people went to hospital emergency rooms each year. Today’s it’s 21 million,” Patrick Pelloux, head of the French association of emergency doctors (AMUF) told French daily Le Parisien.

“At the same time, calls to emergency services have tripled,” which have effectively reduced them to “call centres,” Pelloux said.

I don’t doubt your statistics, M. le Docteur, but tell me this: How much extra does it cost for an emergency operator not to act like an asshole?

(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)





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