ECAS is responsible for answering 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 which provides 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. Following a procurement process BT Communications Ireland Limited currently holds the contract to operate the service.
Emergency calls are free of charge to the caller and in order to fund the service the legislation also provided for a Call Handling Fee (a per call charge) to be charged to providers of electronic communications networks or services for every emergency call on whose network the call originates. ComReg reviews the fee annually.
The Department engages with stakeholders through the following committees:
- Emergency Services Forum
- ECAS Industry Forum
- ECAS Liaison Committee
The Emergency Services Forum is chaired by the Department and consists of representatives from each of the emergency services and ECAS. Meetings are held quarterly and issues addressed include Quality of Service, changes to ECAS or Emergency Services procedures/services and new technologies.
The ECAS Liaison Committee, chaired by the Department, meets quarterly and considers operational performance, operational matters arising, and service enhancements
An Industry forum is chaired by Comreg and consists of representatives from Comreg, the Department, ECAS and Network Operators. Issues discussed include Quality of Service and aspects of the ECAS as they affect the communications industry.