What telephone number should you call in an emergency when traveling in Ireland? Thankfully the answer can be short for real emergencies – need an emergency phone number quick in Ireland? Well, the most important one is 112 or 999, which can be called toll-free from all landlines or mobiles, and will connect you to the emergency services no matter which side of the border you are. Find out more …

Main Emergency Services

For access to the most-needed emergency services in the Republic and Northern Ireland, one number reaches them all – but please note that these will all be routed through centralized communication rooms and that you will be asked for your location, and the service required. Listen to the operator and do try not to launch into an incomprehensible stream of information from the start.

One note on mobile phones or cell phones: there are still a number of areas in Ireland where mobile phone coverage, in general, is patchy or depends on the network used. The latter problem will be automatically overcome by your phone – as soon as you dial 112 or 999 you will be connected to the strongest network in the area. Be aware, however, that there may be almost no coverage in some remote areas, especially hillwalkers and mountaineers should give notice of their plans to accommodation providers or similar

But now, without further ado, let us look at the main emergency services:

• Police

Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the Gardai (Republic of Ireland) or the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Response times vary widely between rural and urban areas, in general, they are better in Northern Ireland. The actual response may very much depend on the nature of the emergency – if you want to report loss or theft of an item, you will more than likely be asked to come to the nearest police or garda station to fill in a form.

• Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance

Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the ambulance service. Take note that this is for life-threatening emergencies (through accident or sudden illness) only, to see a General Practitioner (family doctor) you should enquire about the nearest service with the front desk of your accommodation. You may also visit an A&E (accident and emergency) department in a local hospital, but this will always incur a hefty charge and, more than likely, long waiting hours. In phone books you will also find the numbers for local ambulance services, either private companies or voluntary units – these should not be confused with the regular emergency medical services.

• Fire and Rescue Services

Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the fire service. They will provide firefighting and technical rescue if needed, roadside assistance for stranded cars (also often referred to as “rescue”) is not part of their portfolio.

• Marine and Coastal Emergencies

Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the Coast Guard. The Garda Costa na hEireann (Irish Coast Guard, RoI) or the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (NI) will coordinate the response by cliff rescue teams, inshore rescue units, lifeboats and SAR helicopters if necessary. Distress calls may also be made by marine radio or flares, but this is within the domain of qualified skippers only.

• Mountain Rescue or Cave Rescue

Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the mountain rescue service.

You should be aware that all these services will respond without a charge to genuine emergencies, though you may later be asked to provide insurance details to recover some of the costs. Also be aware that there are fines in place for malicious, false and time-wasting call-outs, but as long as you are acting in good faith you should be okay.

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