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EmergencySMS service: If you can’t dial 999 in an emergency

14 Sep EmergencySMS service: If you can’t dial 999 in an emergency

We all know we should dial 999 in an emergency, but this can be difficult for those who have hearing loss or a speech impairment.

The emergencySMS service lets people who cannot make a voice call send an SMS text message to the UK 999 service, where it will be passed to the police, ambulance, fire rescue, or coastguard.

They will receive a reply back via text.

Wherever possible, people are advised to only use SMS to contact the emergency services if they have no other option because it will take longer than directly calling 999.

Anyone who wants to use the service will need to register their mobile phone first. It is available on all the major mobile communications networks but they are advised to check with their provider first.

How to send an SMS text message to 999:

1. Create a text message with as much information about the incident as you can. Include the following details:

  • Which service do you need? Need Ambulance, Coastguard, Fire Rescue, or Police
  • What? Say briefly what the problem is

Where? Give the name of road and town. Include more detail, such as the house number, nearby landmarks or main road

2. Send the message to 999.

The emergency service will reply and either ask for more information or tell you help is on the way.

Do not assume your message has been received until you get a message back from the emergency service. It can take about two minutes for you to get a reply. If you have not received one within three minutes, send another message straight away.

To find out more and register, visit