ECAS is responsible for all 112 and 999 calls to the Emergency Services in Ireland. It is also responsible for an emergency text messaging service for registered users. Its role is to respond to all incoming calls, identify and pass the call through to the appropriate Emergency Service (Garda, Fire, Ambulance or Coast Guard and, in cases involving aircraft, Air Traffic Control).
The legal basis for the Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) is set in the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007
It provided for the establishment and operation of ECAS and enabled the Minister to go to tender for the identification of an undertaking for the provision of the service. The legislation also provided for a per call charge to be applied to operators who choose to use the service and for ComReg to regulate the provision of the service.
Following an open tender process, BT Ireland Limited was selected to operate the service. A contract was signed between the Minister and BT in February 2009. The contract is for 5 years with an option for an extension of 2 years. ECAS commenced operations in 2010.
The Department engages with other stakeholders through the following committees:
- Emergency Services Committee
- Industry Committee
- ECAS Operator Forum
The Emergency Services committee is chaired by DCENR and consists of representatives from An Garda Siochana, Fire Services, Ambulance Service, Coast Guard, Air Traffic Control and ECAS. Meetings are held quarterly. A Disability Group is also chaired by Comreg. Issues addressed include Quality of Service, changes to ECAS or Emergency Services procedures/services and new technologies.
Industry committee is generally chaired by Comreg and consists of representatives from Comreg, DCENR, ECAS and Network Operators. Issues discussed include Quality of Service and Call Handling Fee (CHF).
The 2007 Act provided the legal basis for the funding of the service by industry and a charge for every emergency call is imposed on the telecommunications provider on whose network the call originates. The charge was fixed by contract for the first 2 years and Comreg subsequently determines this charge to ensure capital and current costs for ECAS are fully funded.