In an emergency, can you be found? | ACMA

In an emergency, can you be found?

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Did you know that the address details you give to your phone company may be used to send help if you make a Triple Zero (000) emergency call? 

Your phone company is required by law to provide your address to a secure database which is used for responding to emergency situations. The database is managed by Telstra and is called the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND). The service address details in the IPND may be crucial to helping you in an emergency, so it’s important to make sure they’re up-to-date and accurate.

Calling Triple Zero

When you call Triple Zero, the address details that are stored in the IPND will automatically appear on the operator’s screen and be passed on to the emergency service organisation you request (Police, Fire or Ambulance).

For mobile and VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services, a call could be made from a different location to the registered IPND address. For this reason, when you call from a mobile or VoIP service you will be asked to confirm what town and state you are calling from, and emergency operators will ask you to confirm your whereabouts. For communication services that can be moved around, you should ensure that your phone company is informed if you have moved and taken your service with you.

Caller No Response

If you require help but are unable to speak, the Triple Zero operator will follow a special procedure referred to as "Caller No Response". In this case, your call is directed to an interactive voice response where you can press ‘55’ to confirm that help is needed. If no other information can be obtained, emergency services will send help to the address stored in the IPND.

Note that for callers who have a speech or hearing impairment, the emergency call number ‘106’ can be used from a textphone or computer with modem access. The 106 emergency call service is provided by the National Relay Service.

Emergency Alert

The address stored in the IPND against your phone number is also used to send emergency warnings. Emergency Alert and State Alert (WA only) are telephone-based emergency warning systems that are used by emergency service organisations to deliver recorded voice messages to your landline telephone to warn you of emergencies in your area (e.g. bushfire, flood). You may miss out on receiving these alerts if your address details are not up-to-date and accurate.

Emergency Alert also sends text messages to mobile phones based on the location of the handset within a specific area defined by the emergency service organisation issuing the warning.

To check or update your address in the IPND you need to contact your phone company. If you have difficultly checking or updating your address details with your phone company, you can contact the ACMA to assist you.

Emergency+ App

If you do not know your exact location, using the Emergency+ smartphone app to call Triple Zero can assist.  The app provides you with your GPS co-ordinates which you can tell the emergency call-taker, allowing them to pinpoint your location.  The Emergency+ app is available to download free of charge from the Google Play store and Apple App store.

Limitations of mobile communications

Remember that you can only contact emergency services from a mobile phone if there is sufficient reception in the surrounding area. If you’re planning to go into areas where there is limited mobile phone coverage, it may be prudent to obtain an alternative device, such as a personal location beacon (see Calling the ECS from a mobile phone: FAQs).

Time-critical Emergencies

Remember that Triple Zero is for contacting Police, Fire or Ambulance services only in life-threatening or time-critical emergencies.

More information

For more information look at the related links or contact Emergency.Calls@acma.gov.au.

Last updated: 12 May 2017