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In Action

Before establishing the phone number 112 there had been different emergency numbers in all EU member states. In case of accidents, disasters or criminal events, citizens could contact emergency services at national call numbers. By introducing phone number 112 emergency response has become much faster and efficient. Although national emergency call numbers have remained available, it is now enough to remember a single number—should you be visiting any place in Europe. Efficiency derives not only from the single phone number but also from a European level IT background, high-skilled professionals, and the smooth collaboration between emergency services. The soon-to-be-introduced Integrated Emergency Call System of Hungary will be able to connect the dispatchers of all three emergency services in a single conference call providing full voice and data integration, allowing them to assist complex incidents such as accidents or disasters affecting a lot of people. Day by day, emergency services do an ample job assisting those in need.

The National Ambulance Service (NAS; Országos Mentőszolgálat or OMSZ in Hungarian) was established on 10th May 1948, its predecessors being the Budapest Ambulance Association, and the Volunteer Ambulance Association of Cities and Counties. NAS set up a single national system of paramedical operations consisting of 76 ambulance stations, 134 emergency vehicles, and 359 committed paramedics.

Present day NAS is responsible for medical emergency response as well as for coordinating the transportation of patients all around Hungary. Calls to the national emergency phone number 104 will be answered by qualified medical personnel at the dispatch centres. After assessing the severity of an incident, the dispatcher not only controls the response team but also assists the caller over the phone in providing first aid until paramedics capable of professional emergency care arrive. There are altogether 231 ambulance stations, 21 dispatcher centres and 7 air ambulance bases in the country, employing nearly 7,000 paramedics. Upon receiving calls to 104, dispatchers alert response units of the most suitable types such as ambulances, ALS ambulances, fly-cars, emergency scooters or motorcycles, children’s care fly-cars, or mass accident response units.

In 2012 NAS responded to almost one million medical emergency situations, performed 1,370 successful reanimations; and their 743 emergency vehicles travelled over 34 million kilometres.

Nowadays in Hungary, in 78% of the received calls an emergency vehicle will arrive at the scene in 15 minutes. As a response within 15 minutes is a required EU standard, NAS keeps using EU funds for developing its dispatcher system, and also plans further revisions to the national emergency infrastructure. In order to expand the emergency response network 22 new stations are to be built, 60 existing ones refurbished with more dynamism in view; vehicles and equipment will be modernized.


The fundamental objective and task of the Hungarian National Police (NPH; Országos Rendőr-főkapitányság or ORFK in Hungarian) is to establish and maintain a liveable and safe surrounding nationwide.  The central unit of the police is the National Police Headquarters, under the supervision of which colleagues of county police headquarters ensure the safety of the citizens and visitors of Hungary. One Hungarian citizen in two hundred works for the police – among them, nearly 36.000 fulfil their tasks as members of the career active duty personnel. As a result of measures taken in the previous years to increase the staff and to invest, public area police presence is now ensured in all localities of the country. One tenth of police officers serve as beat officer, which service form is a fundamental pillar of maintaining public order and keeping direct contacts with the inhabitants. Police leaders hold regular meetings with local government officials and mayors and carry out risk management concerning the distribution of crime to focus police forces accordingly. The dislocation in the countryside of intervention units of the Riot Police also assists quick reactions.

Essential objectives of the police are to efficiently detect crimes that significantly influence the subjective sense of safety and to decrease the risk of road traffic fatalities. Indicators of the above two fields are continuously improving. The detection rate of homicide cases remained around 85-90% for years now, while the efficiency rate of investigations is above 85%.

From 2008 on, less and less persons have lost their lives in road traffic accidents. This is a result of fighting the most common reasons for road traffic accidents: speeding and driving under the influence, in which results the regularity of controls and the enhanced caution of the drivers play a significant role.

Crime statistics indicate the same efficiency: law enforcement agencies register 400.000-450.000 crimes per annum, the majority of which delicts are crimes against property. The police have been fighting crimes that pose a higher danger to society and that thematize the public sphere in an even more devoted manner: for usury crimes, 118 procedures were initiated in 2011, while the number of procedures tripled in the next year (to 378) with an investigation efficiency of 72%. Major cases affecting several counties or the whole country are being dealt with by the National Bureau of Investigation as integrated into the Riot Police.

National Directorate General for Disaster Management (NDGDM; Országos Katasztrófavédelmi Főigazgatóság or OKF in Hungarian)

The single unified disaster management organization under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior was established on 1st January 2012, in accordance with the new act on disaster management which, in turn, was passed in a supermajority (two-thirds) voting in the previous September. Its basic function is to protect the lives and property of the Hungarian population and to ensure the safe operation of the national economy and the critical infrastructure, thereby fulfilling a crucial public safety task.

Disasters of the past years had revealed it was time to fully reorganize the structure of disaster management, to extend its scope of authority, to broaden related functions of the state, and to better delineate roles and responsibilities. It was also important to put more stake than before into prevention, and into the ability of fast and coordinated response.

The new law pays considerable attention to securing the lives and property of the population; it provides a regulated framework to develop self-reliance, assumption of responsibility, and voluntary action, also encouraging the participation of the broader society.

Professional disaster management bodies such as the NDGDM, the County Disaster Management Directorates, and the Disaster Management Branch Offices pursue their vital public safety duties through an approach encompassing the tasks of fire fighting, civil protection, and industrial safety.

Disaster management in numbers (2012):

  • There were over 52 thousand incidents requiring intervention, over 4 thousand incidents eliminated before professional response, and nearly 2 thousand incidents requiring follow-up.
  • Professional disaster management bodies received over 10 thousand unnecessary calls and almost a thousand hoax calls. The present regulations enable that the authority claim the costs incurred by an unnecessary call at the caller, or initiate offence proceedings against a person who has made a hoax call.
  • In the course of civil protection interventions nearly 15 thousand people had to be temporarily evacuated or rescued from their homes.
  • The civil protection branch inspected more than 700 settlements and almost 17 thousand high-risk sites. Inspections involved classifying settlements according to risk levels and an assessment of drainage ditches and road-side afforestation, resulting in over 6 thousand corrective actions.
  • 20 new rescue teams were established in the country, including HUNOR and HUSZÁR, both of which also earned UN classification in October. By now, the total staff number in urban search and rescue teams available in Hungary has surpassed 1300.
  • The integral industrial safety authority is the supervisor of hazardous plants, the transportation of dangerous goods, and the protection of critical infrastructures. While previously there had been 170 hazardous plants registered, this figure is now reaching 800. Branch personnel have performed over 2 thousand inspections in order to identify and secure hazardous plants.
  • In the course of identifying critical infrastructure elements, industrial safety staff assessed nearly 35 thousand potential system components.

As of the beginning of 2013 planned disaster management positions amount to a narrow 12 thousand, while over 10 thousand positions are filled.

As a result of the new regulation, the Hungarian system of disaster management was substantially reformed.

Unified control made the protection from disasters even more efficient. The current disaster management, with its structure resting on the three pillars of fire protection, civil protection, and industrial safety, employs its legal authority to pursue the protection of Hungary in terms of lives, property, the national economy, and critical infrastructure.