How to use the emergencySMS service


Make sure you've registered your mobile phone with the service before an emergency happens.

You'll need to register again if you change your mobile phone number.

Step 1

If an emergency happens, we suggest you use SMS to contact the emergency services only if you've no other option. This is because it will take longer than other methods such as 999 or 18000.

When you need to send an SMS text message to 999 and you can't use the standard voice 999 service or the Text Relay 18000 service, make sure your SMS message includes:

  • which service you need. Ambulance, Coastguard, Fire Rescue, or Police?
  • what's the emergency or problem?
  • where's the emergency? Be precise, including the name of road and town and, if possible, more details like the house number or nearby landmarks or main roads.

Here's an example:
“ambulance. man having a heart attack. outside post office. valley road watford”

If you include this information the emergency services won't have to ask as many questions and will be able to respond quicker.

Please be as accurate as possible when giving the location. The better your information, the faster the emergency services will be able to send help.

Step 2

Now send the SMS message to 999.

Step 3

The emergency service will reply to you either asking for more information or telling you that help is on the way.


Don't assume that your message has been received until you get a message back from the emergency service, an SMS delivery report doesn't mean your message has been received.

It can take around two minutes for you to get a reply to your emergency message. If you haven't received a reply within three minutes, send another message.

Updated: 04 March 2016