One night of some months ago I realized there were some burglars in the apartment below mine. As an Italian living in Germany, I didn't know the number to call the police, but I knew that in all Europe there's a common number for emergencies, 112, and I was confident it was enough. I dialled it and started to explain what had happened. Some seconds later, I was interrupted: "In this case you need the police. This is the fire brigade. Please call 110." They didn't even offer to transfer the call themselves. Maybe I could have asked for that, but I didn't think about it. So I just hung up and dialled 110, and at last I was able to talk to the police.
Some months later I saw a fire in the building in front of mine (apparently I live in a place where you can't get bored), and I called the fire brigade. I dialled 112 and spoke with them. It was the right number.
So, it seems to me that 112 isn't really working as expected: it's just the number of the fire brigade, full stop. But as far as I can tell, this shouldn't be the case. According to the official website of the European Commission,
You can call 112 from fixed and mobile phones to contact any emergency service: an ambulance, the fire brigade or the police.
A specially trained operator will answer any 112 call. The operator will either deal with the request directly or transfer the call to the most appropriate emergency service depending on the national organisation of emergency services.
Then, according to another page on the same site,
112 calls must be appropriately answered and handled, irrespective of whether other emergency numbers exist in a specific country;
The European Commission ensures that European rules on 112 are correctly applied in the European Union and has launched 17 infringement proceedings against Member States that have not complied with the relevant requirements of EU law. All cases are now closed following corrective measures in the countries concerned.
It seems to me that calling 112 should have been enough. But there's even more!
Wikipedia says this about 112:
112 is a part of the GSM standard and all GSM-compatible telephone handsets are able to dial 112 even when locked or with no SIM card present.
But then, again the site of the European Commission, on another page specific to Germany, says:
It is not possible to call 112 from a mobile phone without a SIM card.
Why wasn't my call properly dealt with? Calling 112 made me lose around 30 seconds, maybe more. In an emergency this could make a huge difference. Why did it happen? Isn't this a violation of European rules? Is it normal? Has anyone had similar experiences?
I recently bought a new phone, but I'm still keeping my old one, without a SIM card. Would I be able to use it to call 112, as per the GSM standard, or not?
When I called 112 I used my Italian SIM card. Then, when they told me to call 110, I thought that being a "non standard" number there could have been problems, and I picked up my German phone and used that. If I had used my Italian number again, would it have worked?
Regarding 2) and 3), unfortunately calling 112 or 110 if there's no emergency is a crime, otherwise I would just test it.