What is 112?

112 is your pan-European number to access the Emergency Services when living or travelling within the EU.

In Ireland, should I dial 112 or 999?

In Ireland, 112 and 999 exist equally and run in parallel. Regardless of which number you call in Ireland, there will be no difference and the call will be handled in the same manner. The call is free of charge to the caller.

What about 911?

911 is the common Emergency number used in the United States and many associated countries. 

“It is not a valid emergency number for use in Ireland”

When should I call 112?

It is recommended that you call 112 or 999 in urgent, genuine cases of emergency where someone’s life, health, property or the environment is in danger, or if there is any reason to assume this to be the case. For non-emergency calls, consult your local directory service for the emergency service you require. Anyone with information regarding a crime can also ring the Garda confidential telephone number on 1800 666 111.

What if I need to speak to someone in the Garda, Ambulance, Fire Service, or Coast Guard but it is not an emergency?

Sometimes it is necessary to speak with a member of the Emergency Services but the situation may not be an emergency as there is no risk to life or to property. In this case, it is preferable to consult the local telephone directory and obtain the necessary number of the service you require rather than dial 112 or 999 and take up valuable resources unnecessarily.

What happens when I call 112?

When you call 112 or 999 your emergency call is answered at a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The specially trained call-taker will request you to state which service you require (i.e. An Garda, Fire Service, Ambulance Service or Coast Guard) and will also check your location with you. The call is then transferred to the Emergency Service Control Centre you requested based on your location and handled accordingly. Most importantly if the line is busy, please do not hang up. The call will be answered as quickly as possible.

What types of questions will I be asked when I talk to the Emergency Service call-taker?

Depending on which Emergency Service you request, some of the typical questions that are asked are as follows:

• The exact address of the incident or emergency and/or any noticeable landmarks nearby

• Eircode or directions to the scene of the emergency

• The telephone number you are calling from

• Details on the incident itself, the number of persons involved, the description of any visible injuries and knowledge of any pre-existing medical conditions

Remember, it is important to wait for the call-takers instructions, try and stay calm and don’t hang up until they tell you to.

What information regarding 112 or 999 should I teach my children?

If an emergency situation occurs at home, on the journey to/from school or whilst playing, the child may well be alone and be required to act quickly. Emergency situations can be rehearsed, involving play, for example, to prepare for real life eventualities. Remember it should be practiced in a way that is suitable for the age of the child. Remember that the exercises should instill in the child a feeling of safety, not one of fear.

The emergency number 112 or 999 should be placed in a prominent position in the home so it can easily be seen by the child. It is important for all children to learn the significance of the number and where to find it on the phone. Parents should also carefully explain to the child how to dial the number and in what kinds of situations it should be used. Often placing the home address, or Eircode near the telephone can help younger children, or even visitors, should they have to dial 112 or 999.

The child should also be taught that the emergency number 112 or 999 is not something to play with. Calling the emergency number inadvertently or incorrectly can prevent help from reaching those who genuinely require it.