Calling 999

Knowing when the right time to call 999 can save someone’s life but on the other hand, using emergency services when not required can delay emergency care for others at the time of need. Use this handy guide to know when and how to call the emergency services. For the London Air Ambulance service, you don’t need to call a special number as we are allocated to the emergency that most require our help.


When to Call 999


Call 999 when someone has a medical emergency or is in a life-threatening situation.

This can include emergencies such as:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe chest pains
  • Severe bleeding
  • Allergic reactions
  • Severe burns
  • Major trauma (e.g traffic accident, stabbing or other injuries)


When a person is suffering from a heart attack or stroke, it is absolutely vital you call 999 straightaway as the faster they receive emergency care, the higher the chance of survival.


If it is not a life-threatening emergency, then please consider the other options:

  • Use the non-emergency line 111 for the NHS
  • Self care at home
  • NHS walk-in centers
  • Minor Injuries unit
  • Local A&E department
  • Visiting your GP


How to Call 999


If you have a speech or hearing impairment and you cannot call 999, register to use the text service, which allows you to send an SMS for help. You must first register for this service by visiting the SMS emergency website (


When texting your emergency, please try to include information on the type of service you require (ambulance, police, fire), the incident and location. The emergency services can respond more quickly if we have this information.


Once you have sent this text, we will respond either for more information or to confirm we have dispatched an ambulance. If you do not receive a confirmation, please text us again.


What Happens When you Call 999?


When you call 999, you need to have the following information available for us to help you and arrange the appropriate service:

  • Description of the incident and type of service you need
  • Location, including postcode or area
  • Phone number you are calling from


Whilst you are the phone, the operator may also ask for additional information on the persons medical history, information and details of the accident. This is just to further inform you what you can do before we get to the scene but it will not delay the ambulance service.


Be Prepared Before Help Arrives


Before the ambulance arrives, you can help in the following ways:


  • Stay with the patient until help arrives
  • Notify us if anything changes in the patients condition or if you change location
  • If you are calling from work or home, ensure the ambulance can reach you i.e open doors if required
  • If you know of any allergies the patient has, inform us
  • Collect any medication the patient has if possible