At first I didn’t believe it. Then I was surprised. And finally it simply made sense. An Estonian colleague in our Embassy told me that Estonian emergency services can be reached by dialing “911”, just like in the United States. ” But isn’t your number ‘112’, I asked. Yes, was the answer, but since so many Estonians are familiar with the U.S. emergency telephone number from the news, movies, books and other exposure to our country, when dialling “911” in Estonia, you are simply switched into the local standard “112” network.
My wife and I sadly observed a foreign tourist in medical distress in Tallinn’s Old Town last weekend and saw how quickly emergency help arrived, first by bicycle and then by ambulance. Impressive! I couldn’t help but wonder whether the emergency medical team arrived from a “911” or a “112” call. But clearly it would have made made no difference in this incredible efficient and practical country where so many things just work without much fuss and formality! And Estonia doesn’t just answer “911” at home. It courageously and competently answers international calls for help from Iraq to Afghanistan and from Kosovo to Haiti and Pakistan. I hope to continue to stay out of trouble as much as humanly possible in my life, but if I do get into difficulty, I hope I am near an Estonian phone.