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When to call 112 or 999

Knowing what to do in a medical emergency and who to call can save lives.

Life-threatening emergencies

Call 112 or 999 in a medical emergency when someone is seriously ill or injured.

How to call 112 or 999

Call the emergency services by dialling 112 or 999 from a mobile or fixed phone line, free of charge.

112 also works in any EU country and from any phone, free of charge.

Speech or hearing impairment

If you're deaf, have a hearing impairment or speech disorder, you can register for a service that will allow you to text 112 in an emergency.

You should register your phone for the 112 SMS service in advance so that it will be ready to go in case of an emergency.

What happens when you call 112 or 999

Once you're connected to an emergency service operator, they will direct the call to the appropriate emergency service.

This could be:

  • ambulance
  • Gardaí
  • fire brigade
  • coast guard

Calling an ambulance

The information you need

Once connected to the National Ambulance Service, you will need to know:

  • the phone number you are calling from (so that if you get disconnected, they can call you back)
  • the address or the location of where you are
  • your Eircode, if possible
  • what has happened

Please note that once the ambulance service has your location, they will send a resource to you. Although the emergency call taker will continue to ask you questions, this does not delay the resource getting to you.

The emergency call taker will ask you further questions about the patient and their condition. They may give you instructions over the phone to help the patient. Please listen carefully to their instructions. Tell them if the patient's condition changes in any way. The emergency call taker will stay on the line as long as possible.

How you can help the ambulance crew

There are a few things you can do to help the ambulance service.

For example, stay calm and:

  • if you're in the street, stay with the patient until help arrives
  • call the ambulance service back if the patient's condition changes
  • call the ambulance service back if your location changes
  • if you're calling from home or work, ask someone to open the door and direct the paramedics to where they're needed
  • lock away family pets
  • if you can, write down the patient's GP details and collect any medication they're taking
  • if you can, tell the paramedics about any allergies the patient has

Non-life-threatening emergencies

If it's not a life-threatening emergency and urgent medical attention isn't needed, consider other options before calling 112 or 999.

For example, consider:

  • visiting or calling your GP
  • going to your local injury unit
  • making your own way to your local ED - arriving in an ambulance doesn't mean you'll be seen any quicker
  • self-care at home
  • talking to a pharmacist

Choosing the best service for your needs will ensure the ambulance service can respond to people who need help the most.

Page last reviewed: 30/10/2018
Next review due: 30/10/2021