Dealing with emergency situations in England

Hello everybody,

Dealing with unexpected situations abroad can be a very difficult matter. In order to better help expats and soon-to-be expats in England face such tricky situations, we invite you to share your advice and experience.

What are the key emergency numbers you should know by heart?

In the event of a legal problem, an accident, a natural disaster, an injury or the death of a close family member, what are the first things to do in England?

What are the things to plan ahead in order to better cope with such unexpected situations (registration at the Embassy, transport, medical, comprehensive insurance for instance)?

If you have gone through such experiences in England, do not hesitate to share your story.

Thank you in advance!


I had a life and death emergency two years ago while living in UK. I had an ectopic pregnancy which is a serious condition for the mother and will results in death if not under care in the operating theatre within an hour because it can burst. In my case exactly that happened at home and I started to bleed out internally and we called 112  which is supposed to be in all countries In EU but that didn't work. In the end we learned in was 999.

Once we got a hold of the ambulance they arrived whitin minutes and I was rushed to the ER. Waiting for me at the ER was doctors from litterally every speciality. First in line was OBGYN. It didn't take them long to know the problem as the paramedics had already hinted over the radio, and I was rushed for emergency surgery. I learned I was minutes from bleeding to death.

Even though we have private health insurance through my husbands expat insurance all this was NHS it was was all perfect. They did it all so professional and with such high quality and standard and they really did everything right in aspect in saving my life and the aftercare.

For me 999 is really the best and only one I need in my head for emergencies.

101 is the police non-emergency number

111 is the medical non-emergency number and is very useful when the situation is not an emergency as they can assess the circumstances and if needed will arrange an ambulance for you.

999 is the emergency number for fire, police and ambulance.
This should only be used for real emergencies, NEVER for anything less.

Foreigners have historically been allowed to use the NHS without question but massive abuse has forced change, and that's starting to mean bills being issued.
Non EU expats should have medical insurance, but I'm unsure of the situation for EU expats at the moment or after Brexit.

An emergency is a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property, or environment.  In the event of an emergency - call 999 for Fire, Police and Ambulance Service.

For hard of hearing and speech-impaired people in the UK, you can send an SMS text message to the UK 999 service, but you need to register your phone to use this service; more details are available from this link.

If your problem is not an emergency:

1.  Police, dial 101.
2.  Medical, dial 111, or this link will take you to a search page for all UK medical General Practices.

If you need to speak to the UK police from abroad, this link will take you to a list of all the UK national Police Forces and their contact number.

The UK medical 111 service is operated by non-medical staff who provide answers from information on a computer screen, the information is based on your response to the previous question, so if there is a problem in communication, you may get incorrect advice.  If English is not your first language, or you have an English accent that is not easily understood, avoid using 111.

Don't forget 999 is to be used for the Coast Guard and Mountain Rescue

And cave rescue 😀

For completeness ..................... :)

You also access the following via 999:

Moorland search and rescue service
Quicksand search and rescue service
Mine rescue service
Bomb disposal

Cynic :

For completeness ..................... :) … 675199.stm


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