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It’s An Emergency

An emergency is an unexpected or dangerous situation.

In expected or dangerous situations, where someone is injured or seriously ill, their life could be at risk, so you need to act quickly. There are common medical emergencies that people should be aware of, and you can see the list here.

In an emergency, call 999 immediately. Knowing what to do and who to call can potentially save lives.


The best way to get help in an emergency is to call 999. Calling 999 is free from any phone, so you don’t need to have any credit.

When you call 999, the operator will ask you which service you need. The operator will ask you several questions to make sure you get the help needed.

For example:

  • Is the patient conscious and breathing?
  • What’s happened?
  • Where are you?
  • What is your name?
  • What phone number are you calling from?

Remember, calling 999 doesn’t always mean that an ambulance will be sent- this depends on the situation.

If they decide not to send an ambulance, you may be given medical advice. If it is a life threatening emergency, an ambulance will be sent and you may be asked to stay on the line until it arrives, asked further questions or instructed how to give first aid until help arrives.  You can find out more about about calling 999 on the NHS website.

112 is an emergency number used alongside 999 in European countries, including the UK. It is free to call, just like 999. You can call both 112 and 999 even when you have no signal on your phone, as long as the ’emergency calls only’ message is displayed on your phone.

If you’re not sure where you are, an app called ‘what3words’ tells you your precise location.


If you’re ill or hurt and need help, but it’s not an emergency then call 111 for advice and support.

You will be asked questions about why you are calling, and will be asked for your name, age and location. You may directed to a GP, pharmacist, a walk-in centre or urgent care centre. Alternatively, a qualified nurse or doctor may ring you back to discuss your needs further. If they feel that you need medical attention more urgently, they may decide to send an ambulance to you.

111 online is now available. You will be taken through the same questions as would be the case on the phone, and given advice on what to do next. Depending on your answers, a qualified nurse or doctor will make contact with you.

Please note, if you wish to get advice for a child under 5, you will need to call, rather than using the online form.

6 examples of times you may want to call 111

  1. Headaches, earaches and sore throats
  2. A high temperature
  3. Ongoing pain
  4. Minor injuries, including sporting injuries
  5. Diarrhoea and vomiting (especially if you are experiencing other symptoms, such as blood in your poo or vomit)
  6. Feeling unwell for several days

First Aid Training

First aid is the assistance given to a person suffering from either a minor or serious illness or injury.

First aid can help keep someone alive or prevent their condition from getting worse until professional medical help is available.  In some cases, first aiders are required to perform CPR until further help is arrives.

You can find out about local first aid courses via The British Red Cross or St John Ambulance websites. You can also speak to your school to see if they’re offering any first aid training.

If you have first aid training, and it is safe for you to help someone in need and you feel able to do so, then go ahead but remember to seek help from appropriate medical services such as 999, 111, GP or pharmacist as well. If you are unsure, or you think that emergency care is needed, then call 999 and shout for help.

Remember, calling for help and giving first aid can help save someone’s life.

Take a look at this video from St John Ambulance about how to perform CPR:

This video was not created by Health for Teens and may contain adverts.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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