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Many countries' public telephone networks have a single emergency telephone number, sometimes known as the universal emergency telephone number or occasionally the emergency services number, that allows a caller to contact local emergency services for assistance. The emergency telephone number may differ from country to country. It is typically a three-digit number so that it can be easily remembered and dialed quickly. Some countries have a different emergency number for each of the different emergency services; these often differ only by the last digit.

Emergency numbers and mobile telephones

Mobile phones can be used in countries with different emergency numbers. A traveller visiting a foreign country does not have to know the local emergency numbers, however. The mobile phone and the SIM card have a preprogrammed list of emergency numbers. When the user tries to set up a call using an emergency number known by a GSM or 3G phone, the special emergency call setup takes place. The actual number is not even transmitted into network, but the network redirects the emergency call to the local emergency desk. Most GSM mobile phones can dial emergency calls even when the phone keyboard is locked, the phone is without a SIM card, or an emergency number is entered instead of the PIN.

Most GSM mobile phones have 112, 999 and 911 as pre-programmed emergency numbers that are always available. The SIM card issued by the operator can contain additional country-specific emergency numbers that can be used even when roaming abroad. The GSM network can also update the list of well-known emergency numbers when the phone registers to it.

Using an emergency number recognized by a GSM phone like 112 instead of another emergency number may be advantageous, since GSM phones and networks give special priority to emergency calls. A phone dialing an emergency service number not recognized by it may refuse to roam onto another network, leading to trouble if there is no access to the home network. Dialing a known emergency number like 112 forces the phone to try the call with any available network.

On some networks a GSM phone without a SIM card may be used to make emergency calls and most GSM phones accept a larger list of emergency numbers without SIM card, such as 112, 911 118, 119, 000, 110, 08, and 999. However, some GSM networks will not accept emergency calls from phones without a SIM card, or even require a SIM card that has credit. For example, Latin American and UK GSM networks typically do not allow emergency calls without a SIM. Also, GSM phones sold in some countries like Singapore do not accept 112 as an emergency number if they have a SIM card inserted.

The GSM phones may regard some phone numbers with one or two digits as special service codes. It might be impossible to make an emergency call to numbers like 03 with a GSM phone.

In the United States, the FCC requires networks to route every mobile-phone and payphone 911 call to an emergency service call center, including phones that have never had service, or whose service has lapsed. As a result, there are programs that provide donated used mobile phones to victims of domestic violence and others especially likely to need emergency services.

Mobile phones generate additional problems for emergency operators, as many phones will allow emergency numbers to be dialed even while the keypad is locked. Since mobile phones are typically carried in pockets and small bags, the keys can easily be depressed accidentally, leading to unintended calls. A system has been developed in the UK which connects calls where the caller is silent to an automated system, leaving more operators free to handle genuine emergency calls.

Configuration and operation

The emergency telephone number is a special case in the country's telephone number plan. In the past, calls to the emergency telephone number were often routed over special dedicated circuits. Though with the advent of electronic exchanges these calls are now often mixed with ordinary telephone traffic, they still may be able to access circuits that other traffic cannot. Often the system is set up so that once a call is made to an emergency telephone number, it must be answered. Should the caller abandon the call, the line may still be held until the emergency service answers and releases the call.

An emergency telephone number call may be answered by either a telephone operator or an emergency service dispatcher. The nature of the emergency (police, fire, medical) is then determined. If the call has been answered by a telephone operator, they then connect the call to the appropriate emergency service, who then dispatches the appropriate help. In the case of multiple services being needed on a call, the most urgent need must be determined, with other services being called in as needed.

Emergency dispatchers are trained to control the call in order to provide help in an appropriate manner. The emergency dispatcher may find it necessary to give urgent advice in life-threatening situations. Some dispatchers have special training in telling people how to perform first aid or CPR.

In many parts of the world, an emergency service can identify the telephone number that a call has been placed from. This is normally done using the system that the telephone company uses to bill calls, making the number visible even for users who have unlisted numbers or who block caller ID. For an individual fixed landline telephone, the caller's number can often be associated with the caller's address and therefore their location. However, with mobile phones and business telephones, the address may be a mailing address rather than the caller's location. The latest "enhanced" systems, such as Enhanced 911, are able to provide the physical location of mobile telephones. This is often specifically mandated in a country's legislation.

History of emergency services numbers

When an emergency happened in the pre-dial (or "manual") telephone era, the user simply picked up the telephone receiver and waited for the operator to answer "number, please?" The user responded with "get me the police," "get me the fire service," or "I need an ambulance/doctor." Even in a large city it was seldom necessary to ask for these services by number.

In small towns, operators frequently went the extra mile by knowing where to reach doctors, vets, and law enforcement personnel at all times. Frequently, the operator was also responsible for activating the town's fire alarm.

When manual switching systems began to be replaced by automatic, or "dial" systems, there was frequently concern among users that the very personalized emergency service provided by manual operators would be lost.

This problem was at least partially solved in the USA, Canada, and the UK by dialing "0" for the local assistance operator in case of emergency, although faster service could be obtained if the user dialed the full number for the Police or Fire Department. This system remained essentially unchanged throughout most of North America until the 1970s.

The first emergency number system to be deployed was in Londonmarker on June 30, 1937. When 999 was dialed, a buzzer sounded and a red light flashed in the exchange to attract an operator's attention. It was gradually extended to cover the entire country, but it was not until the late 1970s that the facility was available from every telephone.

Because of loop disconnect dialing, attention was devoted to making the numbers difficult to dial accidentally by making them involve long sequences of pulses, such as with the UK 999 emergency number. However in modern times, where repeated sequences of numbers are easily dialed on mobile phones, this is problematic as mobile phones will dial an emergency number while the keypad is locked or even without a SIM card. Some people in the UK have reported accidentally dialing 112 by loop-disconnect while working on extension telephone wiring, and point to this as a disadvantage of that number.

The first North American emergency number was the 911 system deployed in Winnipegmarker, Manitobamarker, Canadamarker in 1959 at the urging of Stephen Juba, mayor of Winnipeg at the time.

The first US 911 emergency phone systems went into use nine years later in Alabamamarker, and Alaskamarker in 1968. The first 911 call was made in Haleyville, ALmarker on February 10, 1968. The second system, in Nome, AKmarker was put into service later that same month. However, 911 systems were not in widespread use until the 1980s when the number 911 was adopted as the standard number across most of the country under the North American Numbering Plan.

The implementation of 911 service in the USA was a gradual and haphazard process. The chief obstacle was the fact that telephone service boundaries seldom, if ever, coincided exactly with governmental and other jurisdictional boundaries. In other words, a user might dial 911, only to discover that he had been connected to the wrong dispatch center because he had telephone service from one location, but lived within the boundaries of another jurisdiction.

Furthermore, a great deal of electromechanical switching equipment was still in use, and much of it was difficult if not impossible to adapt to recognize 911, especially in small towns and rural areas where the call might have to be switched over a considerable distance. For this reason, it is still not unusual for a County Sheriff's Department to have an "800" (long distance, toll-free) number.

Gradually, various problems were overcome; "smart" or "enhanced" 911 systems were developed that not only displayed the caller's number and address at the dispatch center, but also could be configured so that 911 calls were automatically routed to the correct dispatch center, regardless of which central office the caller was served from. In the United States, most cities have E911 systems either in use, or in their emergency systems design plans.

The rapid replacement of electromechanical switching systems in the 1980s with electronic or digital systems eliminated the problem of older switches that would not recognize 911. At this point, 911 service is available in most of North America, but there is still the occasional small, remote town that does not have it.

In Francemarker, in 1928, telephone operators had to connect the calls for emergency reasons even when the phone service was closed. In 1929, an automatic connection system was set up, initially for fewer than 10,000 people in Parismarker, allowing them to dial 18 to reach the fire brigade. The service was not widespread until the 1970s.

The CEPT recommended the use of 112 in 1972. The European Union subsequently adopted the 112 number as a standard on 29 July 1991. It is now a valid emergency number throughout EU countries and in many other CEPT countries. It works in parallel with other local emergency numbers in about 2/3 of EU states.

In January 2008, the Internet Engineering Task Force released a set of RFC documents pertaining to emergency calls in IP networks.

Emergency numbers


Country Police Medical Fire Notes
17 14 14 Counter Terrorist Unit - 1548; support for children - 3033.
17 18
17 18
122 123 180 Tourist Police - 126; Traffic Police - 128; Electricity Emergency - 121; Natural Gas Supply Emergency - 129.
191 193 192 999 for any of the 3 services.
17 15 18
City 19

Country 177
15 15
199 199 199 199 for any of the 3 services.
10111 10177 10111 112 from mobile phones (soon also from fixed line phones).
197 190 198 National guard - 193.
999 999 999 Traffic Police 777777
019 999
999 991 993 112 from mobile phones (see
995 994 993 999 for any of the 3 services. 112 from mobile phones


Country Police Medical Fire Notes
Patrol: 110Traffic: 122 120 119 Traffic accident - 122.

999 for private ambulance service in Beijing, along with government owned ambulance service 120.
999 992 (fax on fixed line; SMS on mobile phones – latter being only available to subscribers with disabilities); 112 from mobile phones (routes to any network service)
110 119
100 102,108,104 101 Traffic police - 103.

112 from any GSM handsets are redirected to the local emergency number.

Central Govt of India designate 108 as the national emergency contact number for Police, Medical and Fire emergencies.

Central Govt of India designate 104 as the Andhra pradesh state health advice emergency contact number for Medical emergencies.
110 118/119 113 Search and rescue team - 115; Natural disaster - 129; Electricity - 123; Mobile phone and satellite phone emergency number - 112.
110 115 125 110 also serves as general relay. 112 also works for all emergencies from mobile phones.
100 101 102 112 also works for all emergencies from mobile phones.

103 IEC.

106 For municipal hazards which are not emergencies, works in any municipality.
110 119 Emergency at sea - 118.
112 119 National security hotline - 111; Reporting spies - 113; Reporting a child, mentally handicapped, or elderly person wandering - 182 (missing child report hotline); 114 connects to the phone service provider.
112 140 175
102 Civil defence - 118; Police service - 119 can be dialed from mobile phones.
102 103 101 100
100/103 101
15/1122 115 16 15/1122 can be used to redirect to any service. 112 from any GSM handset will forward to the local emergency number.
117 112 and 911 redirect to 117. 112 and 911 can be dialed from mobile phones. 117 may also be texted from mobile phones. 136 for motorist assistance (Metro Manilamarker only), 163 for child abuse (Bantay Bata)
999 997 998 Traffic police - 993; Rescue emergency - 911, 112 or 08
999 995 Foreign travellers in Singapore with roaming hand phone facilities can dial either the 112 or 911 emergency numbers to reach an Emergency Call Centre in Singapore.
119 or 118 110 111 Accident service - 11-2691111.
191 1669 199 Bangkok EMS Command Center - 1646 (Bangkok only), Tourist Police "1155" (English speaking emergency and routine assistance).
999 or 112 998 or 999 997
113 115 114
999 For the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong only (Dhaka Metropolitan Police - "999" and Chittagong Metropolitan Police-"999").


The most common European emergency number 112 (following Directive 2002/22/EC - Universal Service Directive) and also standard on GSM mobile phones. 112 is used in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom in addition to their other emergency numbers.

Country Police Medical Fire Notes
129 127 129 or 18
112 Police - 133; Ambulance - 144; Fire - 122; Gas leaks - 128; Alpine rescue - 140; On-duty medical unit - 141; crisis-hotline - 142; support for children and teens - 147.
102 103 101 Gas leaks - 104; also 112 is being redirected to 101 on velcom GSM-operator mobile phones.
112 Police - 101; Ambulance / Firebrigade - 100; Missing children - 110; Mental problems/suicide - 106.
122 124 123 From mobile phones, dial the international emergency numbers 112, 911 and 08 for information about the local emergency numbers that are to be dialed (122, 123 and 124).
112 Police - 166, Ambulance - 150; Fire - 160.
92 112 Ambulance - 94; Fire - 93; Road help - 987.
112 Alternative numbers: 199
112 Police - 158; Ambulance - 155; Fire - 150; Municipal police - 156.
112 Nearest Police (non-urgent) - 114.
112 Police - 110.
112 Police - 17; Hospital-based Ambulance (SAMU) - 15; Fire Service-based Ambulance - 18; Fire - 18. 112 calls are answered by 15 or 18 dispatchers, depending on the caller's location. 115 for homeless.
112 Police - 110; 116116 Block Emergency Electronic Authorisation e.g. credit cards
112 Police - 100; Ambulance - 166; Fire - 199; Forest fire - 191; Coast guard emergency intervention - 108; Counter-narcotics immediate intervention - 109.
112 Police - 107; Ambulance - 104; Fire - 105.
112 Police in Reykjavík Capital Area Non-urgent - 4441000
999 or 112 The Irish telephone directory says "Dial 999 or 112 and ask for the emergency service you require" but it has been reported that 911 also works on some networks, though in an emergency it is safer to use 999 or 112 as 911 may not connect. Gas leak: 1850 20 50 50, ESB (electric) emergencies 1850 372 999. Note: 112 calls will be redirected to 999.
112 Ambulance - 118; Fire - 115; (State Police) - 113; (Carabinieri) - 112; (Forest Service) - 1515; Guardia di Finanza (Customs/Financial Police) - 117; Coast guard - 1530
112 Police - 102; Ambulance - 103; Fire - 101; Gas leaks 104.
911 The previous number used to be 112 like all ex-Yugoslav states, as of 2008 the number was changed to 911 for all emergency services.
112 Police - 02; Ambulance - 03; Fire - 01; Gas leaks - 04.
112 Police - 02 / 102 / 022; Ambulance - 03/ 103 / 033; Fire - 01 / 101 / 011. The non-112 numbers are for separate emergency services differ in distinct telecommunications networks, whereas 112 is available on all networks.
112 Police - 113.
112 Police - 192; Ambulance - 194; Fire - 193.
112 Previously: Police 191; Ambulance 196; Fire 199.
902 903 901 112 is being implemented by 2010.
112 Police - 17, Ambulance, severe - 15; Ambulance, less severe - 18, Fire - 18. 112 calls are answered by 15 or 18 dispatchers, depending on the caller's location. 115 for homeless.
112 Police - 122; Ambulance - 124; Fire - 123.
112 Formerly 06-11. Police (non-urgent) - 0900-8844.
112 113 110 Police (non-urgent) - 02800.
112 Police - 997; Ambulance - 999; Fire - 998; Municipal wardens - 986; natural gas/LPG emergencies - 992.
112 Forest fire 117
112 Former short numbers: (Police) - 955; Ambulance - 961; (Firefighters) - 981; (Gendarmerie) - 956; Civil Protection - 982; Family Violence - 983
112 Police (until 2012) - 02; Ambulance (until 2012) - 03; Fire (until 2012) 01; Gas leaks -04.
113 118 115
112 Police - 92; Ambulance - 94; Fire - 93
112 Police - 158; Ambulance - 155; Fire - 150
113 112
112 National - 091; Local Police - 092; Ambulance - 061; Fire - 080,085; Civil Guard - 062; Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police) 088
112 (911 works as well) Non-urgent police - 11414
112 Police - 117; Ambulance - 144; Fire - 118; Poison - 145; Road emergency - 140; Psychological support (free and anonymous) - 143; Psychological support for teens and children (free and anonymous) - 147; Helicopter air-rescue (Rega) - 1414 or by radio on 161.300 MHz; Air rescue (Air Glaciers) (in Valaismarker only) - 1415.
155 112 110 Gendarmerie - 156; Coast Guard - 158
112 Police - 102; Ambulance - 103; Fire - 101; Gas leaks - 104.
999 or 112. In 2006 101 was made available as a non-emergency, non-free number for police and local authorities in a small number of areas in England and Wales.
113 118 115

Australia And Oceania

Country Police Medical Fire Notes
000 On a mobile phone, dial 112, 000, remembering to tell the operator your exact location. If you have a textphone/TTY, you can use the National Relay Service on 106. SES units in The Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia can be contacted on 132 500. In Western Australia, the number is 1300 130 039. In Tasmania and Northern Territory, you will have to call the individual units. The number 131 444 is used for non-emergency police. For reporting crimes, Crime Stoppers can be called on 1800 333 000 from all internal states and territories. Threats to national security can be reported on 1800 123 400. 911 may also be dialed in emergency situation from mobile phones ONLY however the call will be redirected to 000.
911 9170
111 Urgent but not emergency police/traffic number *555 (from mobile phones only). Redirect connects many popular foreign emergency numbers. From mobile phones, the international emergency numbers 112, 911 and 08 also work. The 0800 161616 TTY and 0800 161610 fax numbers are operated by the police for all three services.
999 There are also local numbers for each service in each urban centre. These local numbers may be quicker than dialling 999.

North America

Country Police Medical Fire Notes
911 Non-emergency 311 in certain areas. Some rural areas still lack 911 service. Also 112 is being redirected to 911 on GSM mobile phones.
066, 060, or 080 Some regions redirect 911 calls to the proper number.
17 15 18
911 Non-emergency 311 in certain areas. A few rural areas still lack 911 service. Also 112 is being redirected to 911 on GSM mobile phones.

Central America and the Caribbean

Country Police Medical Fire Notes
110 120 123 Note: The number 911 exists but this is only for Private Services like Medical Insurance.
211 511 311 References: Police, Ambulance, Fire
911 or 112
119 110
999 990

South America

Country Police Medical Fire Notes
101 107 100 Emergency dispatcher for Buenos Aires (city), Santa Fe (city), Rosario (city), Salta and Buenos Aires (provinces) 911.
110 118 119
190 192 193 Federal highway police 191; federal police 194; civil police 197; state highway police 198; civil defense 199; human rights 100; emergency number for Mercosul area 128; 112 will be redirected to 190 when dialed from mobile phones and 911 will also be redirected to the police number (190) See also: Brazilian telephone numbering plan#Public utility.
133 131 132
112 or 123 (landlines and mobile phones) Traffic accidents 127, GAULA (anti-kidnapping) 165. More specialized three-digit numbers are available; check the local Yellow Pages for more information.
156 132 119
911 (landlines and mobile phones) All types of emergencies in Guayaquil (112 landlines, *112 mobile phones), traffic accidents in Guayaquil 103, red cross 131.
101 911 102
French Guyanamarker 17 15 18
911 913 912
105 116

See also


  1. BBC NEWS Science/Nature Technology tackles bogus 999 calls
  2. European Radiocommunications Office
  3. European Union
  4. SOS 112 Europe
  5. Latest status on E-112 initiative:
  6. Swisscom: Emergency numbers
  7. White Pages 2008, Solomon Islands Telephone Directory, p1

External links

112 Canary Islands, Spain.


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