Do You Know Which Number to Call in Case of an Emergency?
Whether you’re a newcomer to Switzerland or you’ve been here for a while, you should know the number to call in an emergency. In Switzerland, there are different numbers for the police (117), fire department (118), ambulance (144), and REGA mountain rescue services (1414), and remembering them all in a stressful emergency situation may be challenging.
To simplify reaching help in an emergency, Switzerland adopted the emergency services telephone number 112. It is the common emergency number in nearly all member states of the European Union, as well as several other countries in Europe and the world. As is the case in Switzerland, 112 is often available alongside other numbers traditionally used in the given country to access emergency services. Importantly, you can dial this number if using a foreign SIM card, when using a prepaid phone card that is out of credit; if a phone is locked; and in some countries, even if your phone has no SIM card at all. If you find yourself in an area where your phone displays “Emergency Calls Only”, 112 is the number to use!
The emergency number 112 is a part of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard, and all GSM-compatible telephone handsets are able to dial 112. It was carefully chosen to avoid accidental calls, which occur more easily when all numbers are the same (e.g., 999, or 111); additionally, 112 was the fastest to dial if using a rotary phone. If you want to teach your younger kids the emergency number, a great way for them to remember the Europe-wide 112 number is to think about the fact that they have 1 mouth, 1 nose, and 2 eyes. Have them point to these as they move up their face, giving 112.
It is also highly recommended to download the free smartphone app called Echo112 (https://echo112.com/en/). This app doesn’t just work in Switzerland but also in many other countries across Europe and throughout the world. Once you launch the app, it uses GPS coordinates from your mobile phone to detect which country you are currently in. The emergency service numbers for that country are then displayed. You choose which service you require and make your emergency call through the app. When you speak to the telephone operator, tell them you can be located using Echo112.com, and they will be able to pinpoint your exact location and send the ambulance, fire department, police, or mountain rescue services directly to you. You will need to explain to the dispatcher what the emergency is and what has happened, as you normally would in an emergency call. And if you don’t have data on your phone, no problem—your GPS coordinates are transmitted by SMS. This app is simple to use and removes the need to remember all the individual emergency numbers in different countries.
Emergency Numbers in Switzerland
|SOS – Emergency||112|
|REGA Mountain Rescue||1414|
|Poison Control Center||145|
|Dargebotene Hand (A Hand in Need) / Suicide Hotline||143|
|Child / Teen Hotline||147|
|Kinderspital (Children’s Hospital)||061-704-1212|
|Afterhours Pharmacy (Petersgraben 3, Basel)||061-263-7575|
|Emergency Dentist/Doctor (24 hrs/365 Days)||061-261-1515|
|Emergency Veterinarian (24 hrs/365 Days)||0900 99 33 99 |
(1.90 per min)