The Bosnian and Herzegovinian Ministry of Security’s Protection and Rescue Sector

{gallery}newsletters/14/2/1{/gallery}The Operation-Communication Center 112 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has not begun working in its full capacity yet.  In order to fulfill its primary task of providing help to citizens in emergency situations, its technical and staff capacities must be strengthened.  This will require 10 million KM.

A common European number for emergency calls was introduced in BiH in 1991 so that foreigners in peril could easily reach emergency services such as the police, paramedics or firefighters.  Currently, the number 112 is functional in all EU member states. EU candidate countries, such as Turkey, are also working on the implementation and introduction of the common number 112 for emergencies.

Creation of Preconditions

European integration requires the establishment of an Operation-Communication Center for BiH, as well as the introduction of the common European 112 number for emergency calls.  Additionally, the Outline Law on the Protection and Rescue of People and Properties from Natural Disasters and Other Accidents, which was adopted by the House of Peoples of the BiH Assembly in 2008, foresees such developments.  The aforementioned law led to the creation of the BiH Coordination Authority for Protection and Rescue as an expert operational body within the Council of Ministers of BiH.

Within the Sector for Protection and Rescue of the BiH Ministry of Security, the Operation-Communication Center 112 became operational in January 2010.

{gallery}newsletters/14/2/2{/gallery}Assistant to the Minister of Security for Protection and Rescue, Samir Agić, stated that “preconditions are being created for successful implementation of the system of the common number 112 in BiH, with the aim of high-quality and quick assistance for individuals, as well as the fulfillment of prerequisites for BiH’s membership in the EU.”

One of the basic tasks of Center 112’s work is cooperation and coordination with other operation centers and bodies in BiH on the entity and district levels.

“At the moment, there are 19 such centers in BiH, and the Operation-Communication Center 112 of BiH is the main facility. However, these bodies do not cooperate sufficiently nor are they properly equipped in terms of technology, material resources or staff.  This remains the case despite the fact that these centers were established in order to streamline procedures related to the activities of state bodies for protection and rescue. The Center 112 is constantly collecting data on all sorts of events and threats which could lead to natural or other forms of disasters.  Data is also being compiled on the consequences faced by individuals affected by such crises,” Agić said.

“The Operation-Communication Center 112 has opened and it functions, but neither in its full nor planned capacity. To fulfill its primary task, technical and staff capacities need to be strengthened which will require an estimated 10 million KM.  It should be understood that the establishment of such a system at the state level will take several years and will include various problems. However, the Ministry of Security and the Sector for Protection and Rescue are dedicated to eliminating these hurdles,” Agić noted.

“Lack of political will represents one of the greatest challenges to the Center’s work. In cooperation with the Faculty for Traffic at the University of Sarajevo and UNDP, a feasibility study for the emergency calls 112 system was conducted. This study offers explanations and guidelines for the efficient and high-quality setup of the 112 system. Everything is harmonized with the Federation and Republika Srpska, as well as the Brčko District. Necessary opinions from highly-regarded institutions concerning the project have been obtained, and all of this information has been submitted for approval to the Council of Ministers of BiH. Unfortunately, it has been over eight months, and the study has yet to be adopted,” Agić reported.

Local Disaster, Local Center

Agić concluded that the Operation-Communication Center 112 operates only when there is a large-scale threat or imminent crisis.

“If a citizen has a problem, for example, he injures his leg, when he dials 112, he will not reach the state Operation-Communication Center 112, but rather a local center.  This local body will then determine a plan of action.”

Text and photo: Aner ZUKOVIĆ