Journal Staff


By Journal Staff

The Dutch emergency phone number system (112) will be looking and sounding different in the years to come.

Fourteen of the Netherland’s 24 112 emergency control centers will disappear in the next five years as the result of a 50-million-euro budget cut and will coincide with the 10 regional forces under the Regional Homeland Security Organization. A majority of those in operation following the consolidation will be answering emergency calls using the Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System(AMPDS).

The Joint Dispatch Center of the Hollands- Midden region in Leiden was the first public safety region to go live with the AMPDS in May 2011. The center serves 780,000 people and receives an average of 125 urgent calls a day for medical help.

Jan de Nooij, M.D., medical director, Regionale Ambulance service and Dispatch Center Hollands-Midden since 2000, said the AMPDS was an essential part of the public safety region’s journey to become a better dispatch center.

Dr. Nooij was the first medical director on mainland Europe to become a certified EMD and ED-Q™ and is responsible for introducing AMPDS in The Netherlands Society of Medical Directors Ambulance care and the Dutch Healthcare System.

But like everything else, he said, imple - mentation takes advocacy, honesty, and the ability to work well within the culture. For example, no one in the Netherlands accepts facts hands down.

“We are a consensus society,” he said. “Nothing happens without complete discussion of the facts presented.”

Dr. Nooij, who has served on the International Academies’ College of Fellows since 2009, anticipates a day when all calls in the Netherlands will be triaged using AMPDS —a prediction that isn’t too far off considering the six other regions that have followed the lead of Hollands-Midden: Amsterdam- Amstelland, Rotterdam-Rijnmond, Zeeland, Noord-Holland Noord, Brabant Noord, and Midden West Brabant.

“EMS is the practice of medicine and EMD is integral to its success,” he said. “It’s a matter of best practices.”

Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said consolidation would actually improve quality.

The justice ministry intends to create a single emergency control organization to ensure that everybody immediately knows who is responsible for the coordination of emergency services.

This should lead to improved cooperation and a faster delivery of the right kind of assistance at the right location.

Digital age pushes change to South Australia rural address system

For dispatchers at SA Ambulance Service’s emergency operations center, it’s not only what’s in a property number but, also, how the number will make emergency responses more efficient and the patient easier to find.


Many rural properties in South Australia are located on unnamed roads and without numbers. For time eternal, rural property owners have relied on local knowledge and reference points to help emergency services (and other service providers such as livestock vets) find their property.

“It’s simple really,” said Craig Westlake, SA Ambulance Service, general manager—Operations and Systems. “The third house on the right past the large gum tree just as you go past Joe’s corner. Not that bad.”

Westlake said outsiders—those unfamiliar with the “Joe’s corner” type of directions—are amazed when they hear how the information is relayed and the ability of local response to know just right where they are going.

“When you consider that we service a geographical area of about 1 million km2— but only a population of about 1.7 million, and 99% live on the coast—you can see that we have some fairly large rural areas to cover,” he said.

Locating by reference point and familiarity, however, will soon be in the past for Southern Australia compliments of the digital age. Rural property that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously without physical geographic markers can now be put in a digital format that transfers information freely and gives instant access: plot and point.

The rural property addressing system initiative started in 2010 is set up to attach numbers and street names to an estimated 55,000 rural property owners who have so far done without. All occupied rural properties, homes, and businesses will be on a named road with a numbered address consistent with national standards for Australia and New Zealand (road number, road name, locality, and postal code). Adjustments to accommodate future rural landowners are built into the system.

The number assigned to the property is based on the distance of a property’s entrance from the start of a road. For example, if a property entrance on the right side of the road is located 1,240 meters from the start of the road, the rural road number will be 124. Odd numbers are on the left, and even are on the right.

State governments and local councils managing the plan have stressed the ease of a numbered system compared to the confusion and time-consuming frustration of finding a property, particularly in an emergency, without something more tangible than looking for a large gum tree.

According to a state government rural addressing system campaign-style video: “In an emergency, or for everyday business, rural road numbers are a clear and logical way of finding properties, benefiting everyone in the community.”

The addition of numbers and road names hasn’t won over everybody the system will affect. Some like it; some don’t. Those taking the side of the government’s project cite the safety addresses will provide, particularly if an emergency service responding to a medical, police, or fire call isn’t familiar with the individual’s district. Those against it worry about the intrusion.

Rural property owners notoriously protective of their privacy don’t see the necessity of changing something that, for all practical purposes, works. Local councils have endeavored to balance their concerns by designing a system that identifies only the property, and not the owners. The computerized database does not require the user to enter the property owner’s name. It operates by street numbers and names.

For holdouts, the government suggests tact.

“If your neighbor isn’t displaying their road sign it is recommended that you speak to them in the first instance in a calm and courteous manner,” according to tips available on the South Australian government rural addressing website. “Stress the importance of displaying the road sign to the local community and service providers, including the emergency services.”

Despite Westlake’s familiarity with the area, he welcomes the rural addressing system. “When fully operational, the addressing system will be fantastic,” he said. “But it will take some time for the community to get used to actually having an address.”

In a project funded last year under the Digital Regions Initiative National Partnership Agreement, the SA Ambulance Service will provide high-speed mobile broadband to ambulances across regional, rural, and remote South Australia.

According to the funding agreement, the project will enable paramedics to access details of an incident and critical patient data in real time and improve interagency mobilization, communication with operational centers, as well as increase paramedic safety in remote areas and while operating in high-risk situations.