How to call emergency services

In an emergency, dial 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance. Examples include:

  • A fire
  • A crime, especially if in progress
  • A car crash, especially if someone is injured
  • A medical emergency, especially for symptoms that require immediate medical attention

When you call 911, be prepared to answer the call-taker’s questions, which may include:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address
  • The phone number you are calling from
  • The nature of the emergency
  • Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency

Remember, the call-taker’s questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly. Be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Many 911 centers can tell you exactly what to do until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR. Do not hang up until the call-taker instructs you to do so.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE CALLING 911 DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
The nation’s 911 centers are available to provide EMERGENCY assistance. Please be mindful of how and when to dial 911. If you have come in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus or have symptoms such as fever or cough, please call your healthcare provider – not 911. If you do not have a healthcare provider, contact your local health department for instructions. If it is available in your area, call 211/311/411 for general information about how your community is addressing the pandemic.

DO CALL 911 if you develop symptoms requiring emergency assistance such as:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

If you think you may have been exposed to the Coronavirus, notify the call-taker immediately so the telecommunicator can better inform responders how to take care of you and protect themselves from exposure. Be prepared to answer a few questions from the telecommunicator about your symptoms and possible exposure to Coronavirus to help dispatch an appropriate emergency response.

by John Furst · Published January 12, 2019 · Updated December 29, 2018

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Calling for emergency assistance quickly is vital in many first aid situations. We all know how to call for help in our home country, but what about when travelling?

Most countries have emergency numbers to summon police, fire or an ambulance. Many countries have consolidated these numbers into a single emergency number. In North America, that number is 911, and in all countries in the European Union, the number is 112.

In the U.S., you can dial 911 from your cell phone even if your phone has never been activated. In Europe, you can dial 112 from your GSM phone even if it doesn’t have a SIM card, or if the keyboard
is locked.

Some European countries, such as Belgium, Spain, UK, Liechtenstein, and Austria, are reported to connect emergency calls only from phones having a valid account on their network, that is, customers and roamers only. In Latin America, GSM networks typically do not allow 112 calls without a SIM.

In many parts of the world, emergency services can identify the landline from which a 911 call has been made, even landlines having an unlisted number or blocked caller ID. They can then associate an address with that telephone number.

In the U.S. the Federal Communications Commission has required that all wireless carriers be able to pinpoint the location of a cell phone dialling 911, however, that system is being implemented in phases, and may not yet be available in your area.

Tips for Calling the Emergency Services

Whether on a landline or cell phone, when you call 911, be ready to provide the following information:

  • Your name and the phone number from which you are calling. This allows
    dispatch to call you back if you get disconnected
  • The victim’s location, Give the address, names of intersecting streets or other
    landmarks
  • Describe the nature of the emergency, e.g., someone fell off a ladder
  • Describe the victim’s condition, e.g., their head is bleeding, and identify any
    additional persons needing help
  • Do not hang up the phone unless instructed to do so by the dispatcher

It’s important to remain calm and speak clearly. The emergency operator may ask a number of questions, remember that this does not slow down the dispatch of an ambulance if required.

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

Red Cross first aid app hits 1 million downloads

September 9, 2012

by John Furst · Published September 9, 2012 · Last modified December 26, 2013

With Emergency SOS, you can quickly and easily call for help and alert your emergency contacts.

How to call emergency services

Here’s how it works

When you make a call with SOS, your iPhone automatically calls the local emergency number. In some countries and regions, you might need to choose the service that you need. For example, in China mainland you can choose police, fire, or ambulance.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Call emergency services

Here’s how to make the call on iPhone 8 or later:

How to call emergency services

  1. Press and hold the side button and one of the Volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services. If you continue to hold down the side button and Volume button, instead of dragging the slider, a countdown begins and an alert sounds. If you hold down the buttons until the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.

Here’s how to make the call on iPhone 7 or earlier:

  1. Rapidly press the side (or top) button five times. The Emergency SOS slider will appear. (In India, you only need to press the button three times, then your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.)
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.

After the call ends, your iPhone sends your Emergency contacts a text message with your current location, unless you choose to cancel. If Location Services is off, it will temporarily turn on. If your location changes, your contacts will get an update, and you’ll get a notification about 10 minutes later.

If you use the Emergency SOS shortcut, you need to enter your passcode to re-enable Touch ID, even if you don’t complete a call to emergency services.

Stop sharing your location

When your location is being shared, you’ll get a reminder to stop every 4 hours for 24 hours. To stop the updates, tap the status bar and select “Stop Sharing Emergency Location.”

End a call

If you start the countdown by accident, you can cancel. On iPhone 8 or later, release the side button and Volume button. On iPhone 7 or earlier, press the Stop button, then tap Stop Calling.

If you accidentally call emergency services, you can end the call. Tap , then confirm that you want to stop calling.

How to call emergency services

Add emergency contacts

  1. Open the Health app and tap your profile picture .
  2. Tap Medical ID.
  3. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  4. Tap the add button to add an emergency contact.
  5. Tap a contact, then add their relationship.
  6. Tap Done to save your changes.

You can’t set emergency services as an SOS contact.

Remove emergency contacts

  1. Open the Health app and tap your profile picture .
  2. Tap Medical ID.
  3. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  4. Tap the delete button next to a contact, then tap Delete.
  5. Tap Done to save your changes.

How to call emergency services

Turn off Auto Call

When Auto Call is on and you try to make an emergency call, your iPhone begins a countdown and sounds an alert. After the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.

Here’s how to change the setting:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS.
  3. Turn Auto Call on or off.

If you turn off this setting, you can still use the Emergency SOS slider to make a call.

Change how you call

On iPhone 8 or later, you can choose to call by pressing the side button five times. Here’s how to change the setting:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS.
  3. Turn Call with Side Button on or off. Pressing and holding the side button along with the Volume button will continue to work when this is on.

With Emergency SOS, you can quickly and easily call for help and alert your emergency contacts from your Apple Watch.

Here’s how it works

To use Emergency SOS on an Apple Watch that doesn’t have cellular, your iPhone needs to be nearby. If your iPhone isn’t nearby, your Apple Watch needs to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network and you must set up Wi-Fi Calling.

When you make a call with Emergency SOS, your Apple Watch automatically calls local emergency services and shares your location with them. In some countries and regions, you might need to choose the emergency service that you need. For example, in China mainland you can choose police, fire, or ambulance. And if you have Apple Watch Series 5 or later (GPS + Cellular), or Apple Watch SE (GPS + Cellular), your watch can also call local emergency services when you’re traveling in other countries or regions.

How to call emergency services

Your Apple Watch sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter Emergency SOS mode, it sends your emergency contacts updates when your location changes.* Learn how to add emergency contacts.

* Your watch doesn’t text your emergency contacts or share your location when you’re roaming outside your home country or region.

How to call emergency services on your Apple Watch

  1. Press and hold your watch’s side button (the button below the Digital Crown) until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
    How to call emergency services
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to start the call immediately. Alternatively, you can keep holding the side button. After a countdown, your watch calls emergency services automatically.

When the call ends, your Apple Watch sends your emergency contacts a text message with your current location, unless you choose to cancel. If Location Services is off, it will temporarily turn on. For a period of time after you enter Emergency SOS mode, your watch sends your emergency contacts updates when your location changes.* Learn how to add emergency contacts.

* Your watch doesn’t text your emergency contacts or share your location when you’re roaming outside your home country or region.

Stop sharing your location

After your emergency call, your Apple Watch will remind you every four hours that your location is being shared with your emergency contacts. Tap Stop Sharing in the notification to stop sharing your location.

End a call that you started accidentally

If you start the Emergency SOS countdown by accident, just release the side button.

If you start an emergency call by accident, tap the End Call button , then tap Yes to confirm that you want to stop the call. After that, your watch asks if you still want to send a text message to your emergency contacts. Tap No if you want to cancel the text.

How to call emergency services

How to call emergency services

Add emergency contacts

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone, then tap the profile icon (or your photo, if you’ve added one).
  2. Tap Medical ID.
  3. Tap Edit, then scroll to the Emergency Contacts section.
  4. Tap the add emergency contact button.
  5. Tap a contact name. If they have more than one phone number, tap the number that you want to use.
  6. Specify their relationship to you.
  7. Tap Done to save your changes.

You can’t set emergency services as an emergency contact.

Remove emergency contacts

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone, then tap the profile icon (or your photo, if you’ve added one).
  2. Tap Medical ID.
  3. Tap Edit, then scroll to the Emergency Contacts section.
  4. Tap the delete emergency contact button next to a contact, then tap Delete.
  5. Tap Done to save your changes.

Turn off automatic dialing

You can change your settings so that holding the side button won’t call emergency services automatically:

  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap the My Watch tab.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS.
  3. Turn off Hold Side Button to Dial.

If you turn off this setting, you can still use the Emergency SOS slider to make a call.

International emergency calling

Apple Watch Series 5 and later (GPS + Cellular), and Apple Watch SE (GPS + Cellular), can call local emergency services when you’re in another country or region. When you start an Emergency SOS call while abroad, your watch connects to local emergency services, but it doesn’t send your location or a text message to your emergency contacts. In some countries and regions, international emergency calling works even if you haven’t set up cellular service on the watch. Learn which countries and regions are supported.

Just like when you use Emergency SOS in your home country or region, your iPhone needs to be nearby if your Apple Watch isn’t a cellular model.

A “crisis” situation is one that requires prompt attention, but is not immediately life threatening. That is, a “crisis” occurrence is one that can be improved or resolved by a visit from a mobile crisis team, who generally responds within 48 hours, or by telephone counseling and referral by NYC Well, the Health Department’s 24 hour information and referral hotline operated by the Mental Health Association of New York City, Inc.

1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) is a free, confidential help line for New York City residents. You can call 24 hours per day/7 days a week. The staff of trained mental health professionals help callers find mental health and substance abuse services. NYC Well is multilingual and multicultural:

  • 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355)
  • 1-888-692-9355 (Español)
  • 1-888-692-9355 (中文)
  • 711 (TTY for hearing impaired)

You can also text WELL to 65173 or go to NYC Well, an online resource for individuals, families and agencies in need of help and information.

Emergencies

“Emergencies” are life threatening, or potentially violent, situations that demand immediate response. In such instances, the public should summon police by calling 911.

If you have watched any number of scary movies or thrillers you’ve come to assume that a cell phone is wholly worthless when you really need it. Either the battery is dead or somehow in the middle of a large city, there is no service. But, in real life, your iPhone can actually save your life if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation. This time, it’s Siri to the rescue.

If you were to find yourself in need of your local emergency services Siri can make the call for you. If your phone is plugged into your car port or charging source, you can use the “Hey Siri” command to activate Siri. This option would be ideal if you were unable to physically reach your phone under your current conditions. People with an Apple Watch can use the watch to activate Siri as well.

Using the “Hey Siri” function or holding down the Home button will activate Siri. Once Siri is on, there are a variation of phrases to reach your local emergency services.

  • “Dial 911” The emergency line in the USA. But for all languages and regions that Siri supports, saying “Dial” and the number of your region’s emergency line, Siri will contact the service.
  • “Call 911”, “Phone 911”
  • “Call Emergency Services”, “Phone Emergency Services”
  • “Call the Cops”
  • “Call the Police”

Also, if you are an American in Brazil and don’t know the emergency line in that country you can still say “Dial 911” and Siri will take it upon herself to find the correct emergency contact for your current location. Of course for Siri to work, you will need to have access to a cellular network.

Please do not test out these commands needlessly. All of the commands listed above will contact your local emergency service. You will have 5 seconds to cancel the call before their emergency hotlines are contacted. Again, these commands are for emergency situations only.

Knowing the exact phrases that will prompt Siri to call for help could be clutch if you ever were to need assistance. Just remember, that if you do test this out, to hit Cancel before those five seconds are up. There would be nothing worse than having to explain to the police that you were testing out a command when they arrive at your front door.

It has also been said that saying the command, “Siri, charge my phone to 100 percent” will actually call the emergency line as well. But it seems, that 100 is the emergency number in India so Siri could simply be reacting to that. I tried the command out myself and did have any luck with.

But that would be really cool, if Apple embedded a secret emergency command for spies and hostage situations.

I hope no one really needs these commands, but it’s better to know than not.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to widespread adoption of VoIP has been the difficulty of integrating the VoIP networks with emergency services calling.

A huge benefit of VoIP is that calls can be made from any device or location. It means users can easily switch between multiple devices or make calls from the same number even when they are traveling.

However, this very benefit makes it difficult for VoIP services to support emergency services calling and makes it a bit hard to give a good answer to the question of it is possible and how to make emergency calls on VoIP.

Technical Challenges of Emergency Calling on VoIP

Location Is Important

Traditional landlines have a location associated with each number that is not easily changed because the instrument is not portable.

When a call is made to emergency services, the operator generally asks for the address. However, in some cases, the caller may be unable to provide an address – because they don’t know the location or they are incapable of speaking etc.

In such situations, the operator is able to extract the address and give directions to emergency responders such as police or fire services.

Lack of Power

VoIP phones do not supply their own power unlike regular landline instruments. So if the power is knocked out for any reason, emergency calling may not be possible.

Enterprise users generally provide for power backup in these situations but most consumers will not have such alternatives in place.

This is not a big issue for mobile phones since generally people are used to checking on the phone’s battery regularly but everyone is used to landlines that do not require emergency backup.

Help! The Internet Is Down!

In most places around the world, the Internet service is not as reliable as the phone service.

Emergency calls cannot be made from VoIP phones if there is no Internet connectivity for any reason whatsoever.

Location, power and Internet connectivity are the three main reasons why VoIP providers are unable to guarantee emergency calling on their services.

E911 or VoIP Emergency Calling

VoIP endpoints are identified by IP addresses rather than phone numbers. VoIP numbers are portable, so they do not have your location associated with them.

Since geolocation is disabled, emergency operators will be unable to get an address in case of a ‘silent call’ i.e. where the caller is unable to communicate the address or otherwise incapacitated.

This limitation has plagued VoIP services for a long while but recently, many operators have instituted E911 calling which is the VoIP equivalent of standard 911 dialing.

Given that VoIP networks are becoming more widespread and that they will likely replace copper line networks over the next couple of decades, regulatory bodies have also placed stringent requirements on VoIP services regarding connectivity to emergency services.

How To Make Emergency Calls On VoIP Using VoIPstudio

VoIPstudio is one such provider that now offers emergency calling services on their network. So how did they solve the problem?

Since identifying location was the biggest obstacle, users of VoIP Studio have the option of manually entering their location in the user settings panel (in the USA and UK).

Although location is automatically populated for all users on the basis of the address given in the company profile, additional locations can be added for individual users.

Once the address has been verified, emergency services calling is activated. In the UK, users can contact emergency services by dialing 999. In the case of a silent call, the operator can easily pull the location information from the VoIP database and provide directions to first responders.

The ability to manually set the location will be incredibly useful for organizations whose staff is temporarily or permanently assigned to various locations throughout the world.

Traveling executives or salesmen, project teams that are temporarily working from a client site, or technicians operating from remote locations can all benefit by the ability to call emergency services in whichever country they are presently in.

Since the location settings can be easily modified through the online dashboard, the administrator can provide the new address even if the user forgets to change their location.

The ability to change addresses remotely can be invaluable especially in situations where the user may not yet know their new address. For example, suppose an executive has just moved from the US to London to head their new office in that location.

Even if the executive does not know the new address, their location can be set remotely so that emergency services remain accessible.

Since VoIPstudio provides enterprise service, lack of power is generally not a concern for business organizations.

However, lack of Internet connectivity would still hamper emergency calling and customers are advised to use their mobile phones to dial the emergency number should such a situation occur.

Even the problem of Internet connectivity will eventually be solved as Internet penetration increases globally. Until then, it is heartening to see that VoIP providers are tackling the issues of emergency calling head-on and offer immediate solutions for users.

Start a free 30 day trial now, no credit card details are needed!

Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Start a free 30 day trial now, no credit card details are needed!

It used to be just 999 for the emergency services, but now there is a whole host of numbers we can use to summon help. But which is which, and when should we use them?

999 – The main emergency number

This is the emergency number for police, ambulance, fire brigade, coastguard, cliff rescue, mountain rescue, cave rescue, etc. Note the important word ‘EMERGENCY’. This number should be used only when urgent attendance by the emergency services is required – for example someone is seriously ill or injured, or a crime is in progress.

Calls are free, and 999 can be dialled from a locked mobile phone.

112 – Another emergency number

This operates exactly the same as 999 and directs you to exactly the same emergency call centre. The important thing about 112 is that it will work on a mobile phone anywhere in the world. So on your next foreign holiday, you don’t need to make a note of the emergency number for the country you visit; you just need 112. Incidentally, a EU requirement is that emergency call centres must provide a translations service.

In the UK, 112 also works on landline phones, but I can’t say whether that is the case in other countries.

Calls are free and 112 can also be dialled from locked mobile phone.

101 – The non-emergency number for the police

Use 101 when you want to contact the police, but it’s not an emergency – i.e. an immediate response is not necessary and/or will not be serve any purpose.

For example, your car has been stolen, your property has been damaged, your home has been broken into.

A general rule is “if the crime is not currently in progress, use 101.” Yes, we would love an immediate response, but the police have to concentrate their emergency resources on where the criminals are now, not where they were two hours ago.

101 can also be used to give information about a crime committed, or to contact the police with a general enquiry.

Originally, calls were charged at a flat rate of 15 pence per call. This charge has now been abolished and calls are free.

You should always call 999 when it is an emergency, such as when a crime is in progress, someone suspected of a crime is nearby, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened

111 – The non-emergency medical number

This is available nationwide and replaced and expanded on the former NHS Direct service. Use this for illnesses and minor injuries where life isn’t threatened, but you would like some advice on what to do next.

What if I need multiple emergency services?

If you need more than one emergency service, you only have to call one – and ask them to contact the others (they may ask you “do you require other services” and, depending on the incident, other services may be sent anyway).

A tip I was given recently is that if the incident is a fire, or some other type of dangerous environment, ask for the Fire and Rescue Service first – they will need to make it safe before any of the other emergency services can do anything.

112 vs. 999

Over the years I’ve heard quite a few amusing myths about the 112 service, such as:

    • You get a better response”:

No you don’t. 112 and 999 use exactly the same emergency call centre. The emergency operator probably doesn’t even know which number you dialled.

    • Your location can be pinpointed”:

Not really, and not routinely. And even if it were, it would only provide an approximate location. If a phone signal is picked up by a network transmitter, it must be in the area covered by that transmitter. If a phone signal is picked up by two or more transmitters, it must be in the area that is covered by all of those transmitters. In a major city this area could be a few hundred square yards (perhaps the size of Trafalgar Square – and imagine trying to find someone in Trafalgar Square); elsewhere it might be a few square miles.

    • It will use a satellite if there is no phone signal”:

Come on, think about it. The signal from your phone is barely strong enough to reach a transmitter more than a few miles away – it’s hardly going to be able to communicate with a satellite a few hundred miles away.

999 works even if u have no credit

101 costs 15p, not per minute, but per call pic.twitter.com/vXNyT71UUu

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And finally, a few notes about calling the emergency services from a mobile phone.

If possible call the emergency services from a landline rather than a mobile phone.

A landline can be more easily traced (because it is attached to the end of a wire). Also, if you are near a county border, your mobile phone signal might be picked up by a mast in the next county and routed to that county’s emergency control room. Don’t worry – they will still help you; however there might be a delay while your call is relayed back to your home county.

If calling from a motorway, the Highway Code advice is to use the roadside phones.

The phones are never more than a mile apart, and the roadside markers (every 100 metres) will tell you in which directions is the nearest one. Incidentally, calling the emergency services is an occasion when it is not illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. However, it is still probably safer to find somewhere safe to park before making the call.

You MUST NOT use a hand-held mobile phone when driving, except to call 999 when it is unsafe or impractical to stop https://t.co/XVmOfOr9kp — The Highway Code (@HighwayCodeGB) July 16, 2015

You MUST NOT use a hand-held mobile phone, when driving or when supervising a learner driver, except in emergency. https://t.co/7yOlfJj8pU pic.twitter.com/xGivyrJrcU

Remember that calls to 999/112 are free.

They can also be made on a locked handset (don’t set your lock code to a number that starts with either 999 or 112 – you’ll never unlock it again!)

If you have no signal on your phone, you may still be able to make an emergency call.

The phone will use any available network, not just your one. That’s why some phones show “emergency calls only” sometimes – there is no signal from your phone’s provider, but there is a signal from another one.

999 and 111

Note: 999, 111, 101, 112? Emergency Numbers You Must Know is one of the most-read posts on Chandler’s Ford Today. This updated post is a revision of the post published on April 15, 2013.

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