Do you know the best way of getting help in an emergency wherever you are? Or if a situation is an emergency, but is not life threatening, would you know which number to call then?


Use our handy guide to help you get appropriate assistance, whether you are home or abroad.


Dialling 999


999 is the main emergency number for police, ambulance, fire brigade, coastguard, cliff rescue, mountain rescue, cave rescue

Only use this number in an emergency.


Dialling 112


Use a mobile phone to dial 112 anywhere in the world. Should you need emergency help next time you are on holiday abroad, you don’t need to know the dialling code or emergency number for the country you are visiting.


Dialling 112 will direct you to exactly the same emergency call centre as if you had phoned the country’s emergency number.


In some countries the mobile phone doesn’t even need to have a SIM card in to dial 112.


If you are unsure of your location, the operator will be able to locate you.


112 can also be used in some countries outside of the EU including Switzerland and South Africa.


In the EU emergency call centres must offer a translations service so you can communicate clearly even if you don’t speak the language spoken.


Medical help needed but not urgently


Calling NHS 111: When it is less urgent than 999 but you still need medical help call 111. Here call handlers use specialist computer software to provide the caller with an appropriate response to their non-emergency health issues.


Calling for help when it’s not safe to speak – the silent solution


If you are in danger but it is not safe to speak and you must contact the emergency services, you need to use the ‘silent solution’ the emergency services use to filter out accidental calls.


Although this has been in existence for the last 15 years, many people remain unaware of its existence.


If you call 999 and remain silent, the call operator may think it is an accidental dial or a prank call and will terminate the call.


However, coughing or tapping in 55 on the keypad signals to the call operator you are in danger, and you need police support sent to your location.


Calling 999 when you are deaf, hearing impaired or have a speech impediment or it is not safe to speak


If you’re deaf, hearing impaired or have a speech impediment, you can contact emergency services via text (SMS).


If you find yourself in a situation where it is not safe to speak, you can also text 999. This process can take longer than calling them directly.


However, registration with the emergency SMS service is required. To sign up for the service text ‘register’ to 999 and you will receive some instructions to follow.


In case of an emergency, create a text containing the name of the service you require, what the problem is and the location.


Go to the emergency SMS website for more information or to register your phone.


Contacting NHS using


Calling 999 when English isn’t your first language


Foreign language interpreters can be supplied if needed.


ICE – In Case of Emergency


It is vital emergency responders rescuers or doctors can contact your next of kin.

The difficulty is most mobiles are password-protected so gaining access to the information isn’t always straightforward. The ICE app (In Case of Emergency) lets you put your emergency information on your lock screen so it can be accessed by anyone needing it.


As well as saving your next of kin’s number, it can also save information about your medical conditions, any medications you take, your blood type, allergies and medical conditions.


Good to know: Have you ever wondered what those signs are on the motorway verges, which have a list of numbers of them? They are the quickest way of getting your location so the emergency services don’t waste vital minutes trying to locate you.


Non-emergency calls to the police in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland please telephone 101.


Power cuts


To report power cuts, cable strikes, vandalism to substations or other network structures, cables down or other dangerous incidents involving electricity dial 105.


This simple free number 105 will put you through to your local network operator.


Alternatively got to:


Other useful phone numbers


Action Fraud  0300 123 2040


Anti-terrorist Hotline            0800 789 321


Crimestoppers           0800 555 111


National Crime Agency         0370 496 7622


National Police Air Service   01924 292 252


NSPCC Helpline          0808 800 5000


Victim Supportline    08 08 16 89 111




We strongly advise that you attend a Practical or online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit [email protected] or tel 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.


First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

Emma Hammett, First Aid for Life


Tel: 0208 675 4036

First Aid for Life is an award winning First Aid training business that is HSE and Ofqual Approved through Qualsafe Awards. Our trainers are medical and emergency services professionals and our training is tailored to your needs

Emma Hammett
Author: Emma Hammett