European 112 Day – why it's so important.

On 11th February, the European 112 Day is being held. Whether there is an accident or medical emergency, 112 is the number to dial to get help as quickly as possible.The following story of a Magirus employee illustrates the importance of this number as well as the deployment of rescue workers and a functional rescue chain.

Jürgen Kerner has been a Product Engineer with Magirus for over 30 years in Ulm. Every day, he develops products for the Fire Department and disaster response teams. These include such products for people like Roman Pertl from the Czech Republic, a firefighter for nine years and a part-time paramedic. In December 2015, the two men crossed ways.

Recognizing the situation and taking the correct action

Shortly before Christmas, Jürgen Kerner wanted to test his new skis in a well-known Italian ski resort. Roman Pertl was also on holiday there with Fire Department colleagues and friends.

As Kerner began his descent in the ski lift, he suddenly had severe chest pains. He was suffering a heart attack. According to medical records, every third patient dies on the way to hospital because medical help is too late. Kerner, however, got lucky. By complete chance, Roman Pertl had reached the lift only two minutes later. He recognized the situation and immediately knew what to do.

Thanks to Pertl, the rescue chain worked perfectly. He recognized the heart attack, began resuscitation attempts and successfully provided first aid – likewise ensuring that a 112 call was sent. Due to his swift, decisive action, Jürgen Kerner was brought to a nearby hospital via helicopter. Various interventions were necessary, but Kerner survived. After rehabilitation and reintegration, he is now fully recovered.

The search for the rescuer

"The right man at the right time,"  Jürgen Kerner says today about the lucky coincidence. But at the time, he lost his rescuer from sight. All attempts to find Roman Pertl through Czech officials failed. But Jürgen Kerner did not give up – he wanted to thank his rescuer at all costs. A coworker gave him an idea. He knew Marta Jandová, singer of the band "The Happy", who is originally from the Czech Republic. He asked her to use her Facebook page to send out a call. Over 2,000 messages and comments followed within only a single night. They included important information and finally, the clue to the rescuer.

A special thank you

When the contact was established, Jürgen Kerner invited Roman Pertl to come to Ulm. It was a special thank you for the rescuer and a very emotional reunion for both. Pertl was very surprised. "For me, it is a matter of course to help other people. It's my job, a 24/7-Job." He added, "One doesn't usually receives thanks. That's what makes this meeting so special for me. Also because it's the first life I've ever saved anyone in this manner."

"This thank you closes the circle," says Kerner as he personally thanked his rescuer with a factory tour and a tour of Ulm. But not only Kerner was grateful - his family, representatives of Magirus GmbH in the Czech Republic, who established the contact, and his colleagues were grateful as well. We would also like to extend our thanks to Roman Pertl once again for his great efforts.

This story is certainly only one of many that happen every day, but it shows the importance of emergency services as well as the existence of central emergency numbers and knowledge about them.

Why is there an emergency number?

On 20th September 1973, the single 112 emergency number was passed in Germany. Björn Steiger, who had been struck by fate, had a decisive role in getting this through. His son died of shock after a car accident in 1969 because rescue workers didn't arrive for about an hour. Steiger and his wife made it their goal to accelerate the arrival of rescue workers and founded the Björn Steiger Foundation, which still works towards improving emergency aid. After 6,000 letters and a lawsuit against the Land Baden-Württemberg, the introduction of a single emergency number was decided on 20th September and promptly implemented.

The European 112 Day was introduced in 2009 to make the Europe-wide emergency call number 112 more visible and better known. Since 1991, it has been the uniform emergency number for all EU Member States. The background of this was having an international number in addition to the national numbers, especially to make it easier for travellers. Since 2008, the number can be called free of charge everywhere.

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