Dialling 999 and 112



Most of us are fully aware of the number to call in an emergency.


It is the number we have been bought up with, and the number we teach our children to call. 999 has been used in the UK for over 80 years, and was the world’s first single emergency number.


999 is also the emergency number used in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, Ghana, Hong Kong, Kenya, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, Qatar, Ireland, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Eswatini, Trinidad and Tobago, Seychelles, the United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.


When dialling 999, you have the option of connecting to the following services:


· Police

· Ambulance

· Fire Service

· Coastguard

· Mountain Rescue (you must first ask for Police)

· Lowland rescue

· Cave rescue

· Moorland search and rescue service

· Quicksand search and rescue service (if in Morecambe Bay)

· Mine rescue

· Bomb disposal


We do, however, have an alternative number we can call when facing an emergency, which many people are unaware of.


112, available since the 1990s, was introduced across Europe to give a standard number for travellers to call across the EU. When used in the UK, it connects to the same services as 999, and works in the same way.


Neither number has priority over the other, and neither is preferable, as both will connect with an emergency call centre.


The benefit of 112 is that it is Europe-wide, while also extending to some countries outside of the EU, meaning it is well-worth checking to see if 112 covers your destination, before travelling.

Most of us carry our mobile phone with us, and so it is likely that when calling the emergency services, you will be calling from that device - not least because of its immediate access.


With this in mind, it is worth noting the following points:


· If your mobile is displaying a ‘no signal’ message and you try to make an emergency call, your phone will attempt to connect to another network in order to make the call. However, you will be unable to receive calls on that network, even if they are coming from the emergency services. Therefore, it is worth calling the emergency services back a few minutes later, in case they require further information.


· If your phone does not contain a SIM card, normally you cannot make emergency calls, despite the

message of ‘Emergency Calls Only’ being displayed. SIM-free emergency calls have been blocked due to untraceable hoax calls, so it will simply be the phone’s software which is displaying this message.


· You can only send a text from your own phone network. If you have a weak or intermittent signal on your home network, sending a text to 999 could be a life saver.

Whilst in the UK we continue to primarily use 999 when faced with an emergency, 112 is a number well worth remembering when travelling to European countries, and beyond!



Article by KH First Aid Training