I know this question sounds ridiculous but it's important and I need to know the answer. If I knew that somebody in Ireland was in trouble and needed help (say for example: an ambulance) but there was no one else around them that could help them, how would I go about calling emergency services for them?

For example: I am on the phone to a friend in Ireland every day and I worry about how would I be able to help them if something came on suddenly (like they starting having a fit or something) and they weren't able to hang up our call and dial emergency services themselves.

I've done my research and already know that 999 and 112 are the main numbers for emergency services in Ireland, but would my call even go through to them? I'm in the US and don't have international calling, so my calls won't even go through to any other numbers outside of the US (though I can receive them).

Would I have to dial an area code before dialling 999 or 112? If you dial 999 or 112 in the United States, will you be connected to something else entirely? (Like a 411 type of deal?) or what if I just dialled 911 and explained the situation, would THEY get in contact with emergency services in Ireland?

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    This is a great question but I'm not sure it is really about travel. Perhaps you could phrase it in a way that would involve travel, such as "If I am traveling outside of Ireland and need to contact the Irish emergency number from the USA, how can I do that?" Questions are supposed to be broadly useful to many people so there is no inherent conflict of interest in phrasing them that way. Apr 16, 2017 at 12:36
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    Emergency calls are very much local. If you anticipate such a situation being possible, you can instead prepare by looking up the phone number of a hospital close to the person in Ireland, so you could call them and explain the situation. It would ultimately take longer than an emergency call by a local person though.
    – DUman
    Apr 16, 2017 at 14:28
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    I seriously doubt that an US 911 operator would be able to connect you to the Irish 112. Your best shot is probably to call a non-emergency number of the Garda as an international call, they can be found on www.garda.ie. If they do believe that you are genuine, they can contact the emergency services.
    – o.m.
    Apr 16, 2017 at 14:31
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has nothing to do with travel. Apr 16, 2017 at 15:03
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    Reopening after Meta post by Thorsten.
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 16, 2017 at 21:43

6 Answers 6


Call the Operator where you are, have them connect with an Operator in the country in question, have that second operator connect you to emergency services in the town where the distressed person lives.

Every police station, fire station, emergency response location has a local phone number. While they may initially suggest calling 911 / 112 / whatever central number is, as soon as you explain your situation, they will get someone on the line that can help.

  • This sounds like the best answer, do you know that it works? Also some countries have an "international operator" or companies that provide a similar service, maybe these can call another country's emergency service directly? Apr 19, 2017 at 11:19
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    Have used it to reach people but not emergency services, haven't the need.
    – user13044
    Apr 19, 2017 at 13:13

My friend had to get an ambulance for me last year, she called 911, her local police department contacted my local Garda station and they took it from there, although I'm pretty sure this is completely discretionary, and in an emergency where time is of the essence, probably wouldn't be the best idea.

The Gardaí Headquarters number is +353 1 666 0000, This would probably be your best bet. Alternatively, Store Street Garda Station is one of the main stations in the country, they are open 24/7, and would be able to at least tell you who or where to call. They can be reached at +353 1 666 8000

Hopefully you or nobody else will ever need this information, but it's always best to have it!

  1. Ask your friend to use local resources to select a list of direct phone numbers, not 999, to call for an emergency. When I was regularly phoning my mother, I had the phone number of her next door neighbor. I could also have found the direct dial number for her local police station, if I had needed it.
  2. Look up "international call services". Select and test a couple of them by placing a call to your friend, and keep the information on how to use them with the phone numbers.

In an emergency, use one of the international call services from step 2 to call the numbers from step 1.


You can't. Emergency telephony services are local and cannot be transferred internationally.

That said, I can't think of any scenario where that somebody could be in trouble and capable of communicating with someone overseas, but unable to contact the local emergency services. If they have a phone, they can call 999/112, even without a local SIM card or credit etc. It's even increasingly possible (albeit far from guaranteed) that you can call emergency numbers over wifi, and even if they can't, they will presumably be able to contact somebody in Ireland who can call on their behalf.

In the exceedingly unlikely event that this is necessary anyway -- say, they've been kidnapped and chained to a radiator in a basement, but their hands have helpfully been left untied, they have a phone in their pocket and the kidnapper's house has unprotected wifi, so they can send a plea for help to you over Snapchat -- you could try calling the Tourist Assistance Service or a major hospital near where they're staying and explaining the situation.

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    Someone who's threatening suicide, having a stroke or heart attack or epileptic fit...
    – mkennedy
    Apr 16, 2017 at 15:27
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    Not uncommon at all.. My mom lives in a different country and has no cell phone or WIFI. We have numbers of neighbors, local police & hospital on file
    – Hilmar
    Apr 16, 2017 at 17:23
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    There was a story a few years ago where a young American(?) boy had a Facebook friend in Europe. The friend threatened to commit suicide, I think. The American boy phoned 911. His message for help was routed via the FBI, the embassy of the country in question, and then eventually to the local police/ambulance who happily arrived just in time to save the day. But for the life of me I cannot remember enough details to find the story. Obviously it is not an ideal message routeing for an emergency.
    – Calchas
    Apr 16, 2017 at 22:05
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    @JonathanReez I assume this is a reference to Wifi Calling, a feature a number of phones and carriers have now which natively and seamlessly allows telephony over wifi, switching back to the mobile network as necessary. When you switch it on, you are warned that emergency calls may be unreliable, and that the phone application on the device requires location services for proper routeing of emergency calls over wifi.
    – Calchas
    Apr 16, 2017 at 22:08
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    I don't see why you find this scenario so implausible. There are all kinds of things that can incapacitate someone too quickly for them to make an emergency call (e.g. heart attack, stroke, epileptic fit, concussion, syncope). If I'm talking to someone via Skype, Google Hangouts or similar and something like that happens to them, they can't call an ambulance, but I can raise the alarm if there's a way for me to contact emergency services. Here is a real-life example.
    – Pont
    Apr 18, 2017 at 14:31

Having recently had to call an ambulance in Ireland (for myself). There are distinct advantages to making the call locally, such as location technology (essential in my case - I knew exactly where I was but the road/mountain pass name wasn't on their system) and staying on the line to support the casualty. This means if at all possible the casualty should hang up and call for themself, or use another line. It is of course possible that the person becomes unconscious while talking to you, needs your support too much to hang up, or can only get a text message out. In most of these cases police (gardai) support will be needed and making an international call to the local garda station is best. This requires international calling, so you may have to find a phone that supports it if yours doesn't.

In many areas of Ireland ambulances aren't despatched from hospitals. Mine came from the nearest town (20 minutes away) but the hospital was well over an hour away. So calling the nearest hospital is unlikely to be efficient.


You can continue your research by contacting An Garda Síochána, the Irish National Police, to get direct advice on how to handle this.

You may get better advice by contacting the local station where the person is located, assuming they are not travelling around.

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    I'm on the phone with my friend in Ireland every single day, so I would more than likely already have been on the phone with them for hours before anything ever came up. What I worry about is what if something came on suddenly (like they starting having a fit or something) and they weren't able to hang up our call and dial emergency services themself. How would I be able to help them? Would 911 put me through to Ireland's emergency services or would they get in contact with them if I dialed them? What would I even be able to do in that scenario?
    – Elizabeth
    Apr 16, 2017 at 14:14
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    @Elizabeth garda.ie/Stations/Default.aspx is a directory of the police stations. If you look up the one in your friends area, you can get the international number for the station. For example, +3534777200 for Monaghan.
    – user30833
    Apr 17, 2017 at 6:05

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