Emergency call

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
911 is used in some American countries
112 is the common European number

An emergency call is a signal that is transmitted to alert professional helpers such as rescue services , fire departments or the police in the event of an emergency . Depending on the situation, a decision is made when answering the call whether an operation is to take place. The emergency call can be made via various communication channels , usually by telephone , but also via call boxes , fax, radio and distress signals .

The single euro emergency number 112 is valid in all Member States of the European Union and the EFTA as well as Russia, Ukraine and some other countries in Europe since 11 February 1991 in Canada, Mexico and the United States, however, is 911 , the standard emergency number.

Statistical data

Due to the very small area of ​​responsibility in Germany, there are hardly any statistics. In 2006, the fire department in Berlin received one million calls, around 100,000 calls a month; An employee is connected to the caller after an average of 20 seconds. In 2013/2014/2015 the waiting time in Berlin for a call to 110/112 was less than 14 seconds on average. The waiting record at the fire brigade dates back to 2014 and is almost 11 minutes. The 110 in Berlin received up to 1.8 million emergency calls per year between 1998 and 2017, resulting in up to 820,000 calls per year, up to 78,000 calls per month, up to 3,200 calls per day. With 3.65 million residents in Berlin and 2.8 million calls per year to 112 and 110 combined, an emergency call is made about every 16 months for each resident.

The 650,000 residents, for whom the Integrated Rescue Control Center in Kiel is responsible, make 240,000 emergency calls per year via 112.


Emergency calls play a crucial role in the rescue chain concept . A distinction must be made between targeted emergency calls, i.e. direct calls to a control center , and non-targeted emergency calls such as the delivery of the alpine emergency signal , with which one can make oneself known to people in the vicinity, who then call the necessary emergency services. Telephones that can be used to make targeted emergency calls are identified in public facilities and larger buildings by the fire alarm telephone or emergency telephone safety signs.

Emergency calls can also be triggered automatically, for example if a person no longer reports, as in the case of a dead man's device or through the safety clock on a home emergency call device . The triggering of a fire alarm device can also be described as an emergency call ( see also audio-frequency transmission system ). Emergency transmitters for people who are restricted in their movement are also widespread. You carry a radio transmitter with you, which sends a pulse to an additional device on the telephone in the apartment when you press a button, which then automatically forwards the alarm to a previously defined control center . Such systems are called call assistance or house emergency calls . There are also silent burglary and hold-up alarms that run up in the control center of the local police.

With the further development of the cell phone and the Global Positioning System (GPS), further possibilities have opened up. There are emergency call transmitters that are built into motor vehicles and automatically send an emergency call to the control centers of the traffic clubs - such as ADAC or ÖAMTC - in the event of an accident due to abnormal changes in position .

The proliferation of mobile phones has resulted in the emergency call systems offered on site being rarely used, which, on the other hand, means that the communication times are lengthened instead of shortened. In the event of accidents in tunnels , for example, the alarms are not given over a long period of time via the telephones in the emergency call booths but rather via cell phones. Not using the emergency booths makes it more difficult for the monitoring center to precisely locate the scene of the accident and also prevents or delays the activation of automatic emergency measures such as B. the amplification of the lighting.


Emergency 112

EU emergency number 112 (symbol picture, within the EU)

Until 1973 there were no standardized emergency numbers in the Federal Republic of Germany . Then the new rules of the emergency call system 73 came into force. This made the numbers 110 and 112, which had been used regionally since 1948, nationwide. This was caused by the death of eight-year-old Björn Steiger, who died in 1969 after a traffic accident because the rescue workers arrived too late. The accident victim's father later worked to improve the emergency number and founded the Björn Steiger Foundation .

In the whole of the GDR , 110 for the police and 112 for the fire brigade had been valid as uniform emergency numbers since at least 1958. 115 for medical emergencies was introduced uniformly in the GDR in 1976.

Since February 11, 1991, the single European emergency number 112 has been in effect in all member states of the European Union and the EFTA as well as in Russia, Ukraine and some other countries in Europe .

On the occasion of this event, a special postage stamp was issued, designed by Annette le Fort and André Heers.

911 911

The establishment of the US 911 was hastened by the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese . A number of people watched the act without intervening ( spectator effect ). The case formed the occasion for the nationwide introduction of a functioning emergency number.

Emergency call by phone

The emergency number that affects most people directly in the event of an accident is the telephone. For the behavior and the essential information when making an emergency call, some rules have been drawn up on the information that are intended to facilitate problem-free processing:

GermanyGermany Germany : Regulated emergency call procedure: The W questions (order of importance)
  • Where did something happen?
  • What happened
  • How many injured / sick / affected?
  • Which injuries / illnesses? or what is the scope of the event? (non-medical emergency calls)
  • Wait for questions! (do not end the conversation without being asked)

AustriaAustria Austria
  • Where is the emergency?
  • What happened
  • How many injured?
  • Who is calling? (also waiting for queries)

SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland : The emergency call reporting scheme
  • Where did the event happen?
  • Who is reporting (name, first name)?
  • What happened
  • When did the event happen?
  • How many people are affected by the event?
ItalyItaly Italy : Recommended emergency call procedure
  • Where did it happen (Dove è successo?)
  • What happened (Cosa è successo?)
  • How many are involved? (Quante persone sono coinvolte?)
  • Which clinical pictures / injuries? (Quali sono le malattie / le ferite?)
  • Wait for questions! (Attendere!)

The caller should only hang up when the called control center has no more questions and ends the call. It is desirable to give the callback number because it gives you the opportunity to contact the person who is notifying you if you have any questions. This is especially necessary if the rescue workers cannot find the place of action.

Since the employees at the various control centers are being trained more and more qualified, the caller is usually asked by the dispatcher according to a specific query scheme, such as the AMPDS . The scheme usually begins with the question of the exact location of the accident or deployment. Further questions are those about the callback number and the reason for the call.

In addition, when making an emergency call, attention should be drawn to special features such as fire , leakage of liquids or trapped people. In the event of poisoning , you should, if possible, also disclose the substance you have taken (e.g. medication , detergent or parts of plants). In the event of traffic accidents involving the transport of dangerous goods , attention should be drawn to the orange warning signs and any key figures on the signs .

An emergency call can always be made free of charge from any telephone - coins or phone cards are not required. This also applies to cell phones . 112 and 911 (which is common in North America) were introduced as emergency numbers in the GSM standard internationally . Even without a SIM card or PIN , you can dial these numbers in many countries, such as Austria, and you are then connected to a control center such as an ambulance service or the police. Cell phones from many manufacturers even allow this number to be dialed when the key lock is activated . In Germany, the initially existing possibility of making emergency calls without an operational SIM card was abolished with the Emergency Call Ordinance of March 6, 2009 due to extensive misuse - up to 80% of calls at certain times. The regulation came into force on March 18, 2009 with a transition period until July 1, 2009 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 481 ). There were also numerous cases of abuse in Austria, such as in Gmunden at the beginning of 2014. It is unknown whether the perpetrator could be traced using the cell phone's identification number, which was also transmitted.

The emergency numbers

As a general rule, it can be summarized that the so-called Euro emergency number 112 can be used free of charge and without a prefix from any telephone (except coin-operated telephones) in almost every country in Europe as well as in Turkey and Algeria, possibly parallel to other existing emergency numbers. Exceptions in Europe are Albania , Bosnia and Herzegovina , North Macedonia and Montenegro . With cell phones equipped with a SIM card from a European provider, the 112 can also be used in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Country / Region police fire Department Ambulance service Other emergency numbers
European Union 112 112 112 Sea rescue of refugees through the Watch The Med Alarm Phone Project : +33 4 86 51 71 61 .
See also: Euronotruf
Germany 110 112 112 115 : Authority call

116 116 : Central contact point for blocking electronic authorizations (for media such as credit or debit cards)
116 117 : (Cash) medical on-call service
116 123 : Telephone counseling in Germany
0800 190 99 99 : Feldjäger ( military police ) (from the fixed network connection to the responsible Feldjägerdienstkommando , from the mobile network connection to the Feldjägerdienstkommando BMVg Bonn)
0800 6 888 000 : Federal Police (free of charge, including in matters relating to railway police)

The poison emergency number varies depending on the state.

Several of these numbers are not emergency numbers for the purposes of this article. The 116 117 is from the physicians associations set up and provides medical aid for not acutely life-threatening diseases, such as when the GP weekend is unreachable. The same applies to the number 19222 - this is generally set up for planned patient transports, often only works with the correct area code of the respective control center and is therefore not an emergency number.
Austria 112 or 133 122 144

National emergency numbers
128 : Gas Emergency
140 : Alpine emergency ( mountain rescue , cave rescue )
141 : doctors radio service (On-call general practitioners outside normal office hours , in Burgenland for pet doctors)
142 : Telefonseelsorge
147 : 147 - Council on wire (children and youth helpline )

short codes in public interest (chargeable)
120 : ÖAMTC breakdown assistance
123 : ARBÖ breakdown assistance
130 : State warning center (disaster control)
1450 : Health number (health advice for all of Austria)
1455 : Pharmacy emergency
number 14844 :
Ambulance transport

Important numbers (at the respective tariff)
0800 133133 : Emergency number for the deaf ( free of charge, via fax or SMS from mobile networks or e-mail to gehoerlosennotruf@polizei.gv.at)
116 117 : Medical on-callservice
01 4064343 : Poisoning information center
05 7722 : Women's shelters emergency number
01 31330 : Social psychiatric emergency service of the City of Vienna
0664 620 30 40 : KiB children care (Association for the accompaniment and care number of sick children)

numbers +43 1 90115 4411 : Foreign Ministry Vienna -
Serviceline (worldwide)
+43 1 25120 00 : Legal, medical and technical emergency aid ( ÖAMTC )

The emergency number 112 in Austria is only available to the police in accordance with Section 18 of the KEM-V. However, requests from other emergency services are also processed.

The following rule of thumb applies to the 3 common emergency numbers: In alphabetical order "Fire Brigade - Police - Rescue" in ascending numerical order "122 - 133 - 144"

Switzerland 117 or 112 118 or 112 144 or 112 140 and 0800 140 140 : breakdown assistance ;
1410 : Air Zermatt (air ambulance in south-west Switzerland / Upper Valais)
1414 : Air Rescue (REGA) / Alpine Rescue Switzerland
+41333333333 : Air Rescue / Alpine Rescue Switzerland (devices with non-Swiss SIM card / alarms from abroad)
1415 : Air-Glaciers : (Air ambulance in south-western Switzerland / Lower Valais);
143 : Telephone Help ( The Presented Hand );
145 : Tox center for poisoning;
147 : Telephone assistance for children and young people;
0800 117 117 : transport police;
0800 552 333 : Military Police
The emergency number 112 is used differently in different cantons and is not openly propagated in all of them. While in some cantons 112, 117, 118 and 144 lead to a common emergency call center, in other cantons the 112 is forwarded together with the 117 directly to the police, the 118 directly to the fire brigade and the 144 directly to the on-duty emergency department of the nearest hospital.
Liechtenstein 117 or 112 118 (or 112 ) 144 (or 112 ) Liechtenstein helpline : 147 ( telephone help for children and young people)
Argentina 101 or 911 100 or 911 107 or 911 General emergency number in Buenos Aires and soon also in most provinces: 911 (as of 2017).
Australia 000 000 000
Belgium 101 or 112 100 or 112 100 or 112
Brazil 190 ( Polícia Militar, riot police) 193 192
Because of the soccer World Cup in 2014 and other major international events, the emergency numbers 112 (Europe) and 911 (United States of America) were also routed to the police headquarters.
Bulgaria 112 or 166 112 or 160 112 or 150
Costa Rica 911 911 911
Denmark 112 112 112 The police can be reached nationwide on 114 for non-urgent matters (e.g. crime reports and information).
Estonia 112 112 112
France 17 or 112 18 or 112 15 or 112
Finland 112 112 112
Greece 100 or 112 199 or 112 166 or 112
India 100 or 108 or 112 101 or 108 or 112 102 or 108 or 112 On March 28, 2016, it was decided to introduce 112 as a uniform emergency number, under which the police, fire brigade and rescue service can be reached.
The availability of the numbers is limited regionally
Ireland 999 or 112 999 or 112 999 or 112
Iceland 112 112 112
Israel 100 102 101
Italy 112 112 112 Since 2017, 112 has been the general emergency number in accordance with EU directives!


Carabinieri : 112 (gendarmerie, military police); Polizia di Stato : 113 (State Police, Traffic Police and Railway Police);

Emergenza infanzia : 114 (child emergency number , violent crimes against children, you can also report psychologically stressful content from television, newspapers and other media);

Fire brigade: 115 ;

Ambulance service: 118 ;

Forest Police (Corpo Forestale) : 1515 (forest fire reports, emergencies in forest areas (animals in difficulty, poaching), illegal fishing, environmental sins);

Coast Guard : 1530 (For accidents or other emergencies on the high seas / in coastal areas);

Roadside Assistance : 116 (ACI);

Guardia di Finanza (financial police): 117 (also reports of drug trafficking, counterfeit money, fraud in major cases);

Call center per le emergenze sanitarie : 1500 (For general questions about pandemics, epidemics, Managed by the Ministry of Health);

Viaggiare informati : 1518 (traffic reporting center );

AntiViolenza Donna: 1522 (Aid for violent crimes against women);  

Polizia penitenziaria : 1544 (For all problems related to prisons, prisoner transport, etc.);

Servizio emergenza ambientale 1525 (For special incidents that endanger the environment);

Japan 110 119 119
Jordan 911 911 911
Canada 911 911 911
Kazakhstan 102 or 112 101 or 112 103 or 112 Gas emergency service: 104
Colombia 123 123 or 119 123 Military: 123 , Anti-Abduction Special Forces: 165
Croatia 192 or 112 193 or 112 194 or 112
Latvia 112 112 112 or 113
Lithuania 112 112 112
Luxembourg 113 112 112 The number 112 can also be reached by SMS for the deaf.

Telephone for children and young people: 116 111 ; Women's phone : 12344

Namibia 10 111 no uniform number no uniform number various private rescue services with a nationwide network, e.g. B. 081 924
New Zealand 111 111 111
Netherlands 112 112 112 In non-urgent matters, the police can be reached nationwide on 0900-8844 (e.g. crime reports and information).
Norway 112 110 113 In non-urgent matters, the police can be reached nationwide on 02800 (e.g. crime reports and information).
East Timor 112 115 112
Palestinian Territories 100 102 101
Poland 997 or 112 998 or 112 999 or 112
Portugal 112 112 112 Forest fire: 117
Republic of China (Taiwan) 110 119 119
Russia 102 or 112 101 or 112 103 or 112 Gas emergency service: 104 or 112 .
Serbia 192 or 112 193 194
The standardization to 112 is planned.
Sierra Leone 000 999 112 Police emergency number also 900 ; police traffic emergency number 901 ; National Security Service 119
Singapore 999 995 995
Slovakia 158 or 112 150 or 112 155 or 112
Slovenia 113 or 112 112 112
Spain 091 (national police) , 092 (local police) or 112 080 or 112 061 or 112 Guardia Civil : 062 ; autonomous police: 088 (depending on the region); autonomous fire brigade: 081 or 085 ; Civil defense: 1006 ; Distress: 902 202 202 ; SMS emergency call for the deaf: 112
Sweden 112 112 112 The police can be reached nationwide on 114 14 for non-urgent matters (e.g. crime reports and information).
South Africa 10 111 or 112 (cellular only) 10 111 or 112 (cellular only) 10 111 or 10 177 or 112 (cellular only)
South Korea 112 119 119
Thailand 191 199 1669 In matters with tourists, the tourist police of the resorts can be reached at 1155 (also speak English).
Czech Republic 158 or 112 150 or 112 155 or 112 City police / public order office, e.g. B. in the case of towed cars or luggage theft: 156 ; Breakdown emergency service: 0123 .
The emergency number 112 in the Czech Republic is only available from the fire brigade. This is a kind of call center that processes the messages and forwards them to the responsible control center.
Turkey 155 or 112 110 or 112 112 Traffic Police: 154 ; Gendarmerie: 156 ; Regulatory Office: 153 .
Ukraine 102 or 112 101 or 112 103 or 112
Hungary 107 or 112 105 or 112 104 or 112 Authority call: 1818
Uruguay 911 911 911
United Arab Emirates 999 997 998
United States 911 911 911
United Kingdom 999 or 112 999 or 112 999 or 112 SMS emergency number for the deaf: 999 (after registration)
Transport police : 0800 40 50 40 or SMS 61016
In non-urgent matters, the police can be reached nationwide on 101 (e.g. crime reports and information).
People's Republic of China 110 119 120

Location of the mobile phone location

If the control center keeps the caller on the line, it is possible to determine the approximate location of a cell phone with the help of the network operator. The radio mast through which the phone established the connection to the cellular network is located. In cities, the radio masts serve a radio cell with a diameter between 100 and 1,600 m, but theoretically it can be up to 35 km in size.

In Germany, the rescue control centers have been locating since November 2006 with a location platform from Björn Steiger Stiftung Service non-profit GmbH . In September 2009 this location platform was transferred to Allianz OrtungsServices GmbH . This location platform enabled the rescue control centers to locate GSM within the networks of German mobile phone operators. This location option no longer exists. Since December 23, 2012, the mobile network operators are obliged to transmit location data when a connection is established to an emergency call center. Thus, appropriately equipped rescue control centers receive location data with every emergency call. This also mostly applies to calls from the landline network.

The pure GSM location depends on the density of the radio cells and can therefore deviate widely in rural areas. Exact localization via this service is only possible with appropriate end devices that have GPS support. Modern smartphones are able to use the Advanced Mobile Location service to transmit their position to the rescue control center in the event of an emergency call; this has been supported by some of the control centers in Germany since October 2019.

Routing from the GSM network

Internationally, the combination of digits 08 can normally be used from the GSM network in order to be connected to the responsible rescue control center without knowing the local emergency number. In the German GSM network, the caller to 112 is automatically connected to the nearest rescue control center. Forwarding can take place differently depending on the region and the network operator. For the emergency caller, however, this is irrelevant: the information is passed through internal lines. It may well happen that the police report an emergency call for the fire brigade. The emergency call 112 is also possible with the GSM standard compliant mobile phones when the key lock is active. If there is no home network, the mobile phone books itself to another network for the emergency call. With standard-compliant devices, 112 + "Lift the handset" can be used instead of the PIN (secret number) when switching on the device, or a function key is assigned the "SOS" or "Emergency" function immediately after switching on, before the PIN is entered . In Germany, however, an emergency call can no longer be made after switching on the device without entering a PIN. This function was blocked due to incorrect calls from small children or accidental activation in your pocket. Under certain circumstances, due to the different propagation conditions of the GSM radio network, it can be forwarded to another control center that is actually not responsible. For example, in areas close to the mountains, reflections and shadows can lead to incorrect switching. It is therefore always important to specify the exact location and not just z. B. the street - because this can also be in the neighboring town. In the border area such. B. in Liechtenstein, the responsible control center can be reached most reliably if you dial the country code before the emergency number, z. B. +423 112. In Germany it is not possible to dial the emergency number with a country code.

Report an emergency via mobile phone

In the event of an emergency at sea in the German sea area, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center Bremen (MRCC, Sea Emergency Management), which is operated by the DGzRS , must be alerted .

The alarm is given primarily by radio (see below); Advantages are e.g. B. increased range as well as eavesdropping and possible forwarding by ships in the vicinity.

Alternatively, the alarm can be sent by calling +49 421 536870; the cellular short code 124 124 is not available everywhere.

Routing from the GSM-R network

Emergency call button of a GSM-R capable train radio

GSM-R is the digital radio network of the railways. If a driver has to make an emergency call, he presses the emergency call button on his train radio (see picture). This immediately sets up a group call, which is initiated with a siren. This call interrupts existing calls except for other emergency calls in the emergency call area (mostly the entire route between two hub stations).

Data protection for emergency calls

Anyone who makes an emergency call agrees to a far-reaching waiver of data protection . Every conversation is recorded in the rescue control center without the caller's consent. Furthermore, a possibly activated suppression of the call number is ignored, the data of the subscriber can easily be called up. If the call is made from a cellular network, the approximate location of the caller can also be determined, although the location of a cellphone is very imprecise, as described above. However, the mobile phone can only be located with the prior consent of the caller. Exceptions apply if human life is in danger or there is a threatened suicide .

Emergency call by emergency telephone

Fire protection symbol for a fire alarm telephone according to DIN EN ISO 7010
Emergency telephone number issued at DHPol

Another possibility to make an emergency call are emergency telephones in train stations , on highways and in public places. On motorways, the direction of travel and, if known, the number of kilometers should always be given. The emergency telephones on the federal highways in Germany are geo-measured and automatically transmit the location data of the emergency telephones in the event of an emergency call. To be on the safe side, however, the direction of travel and the number of kilometers should be communicated. The direction to the nearest emergency telephone is indicated by black arrows on the delineator posts or guardrails. The emergency telephones are always installed in pairs opposite on the motorway so as not to mislead anyone into crossing the lane. These emergency telephones are connected to the car insurers' emergency number in Germany, to the ASFINAG road maintenance center in Austria and to the police traffic control center in Switzerland.

Emergency call by motor vehicle

In 1982 the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) tested a car emergency call system. It was a small emergency radio device for motor vehicles that was intended to shorten the rescue time in the event of an accident and thus also to reduce the consequences of accidents and to save people. The company AEG-Telefunken developed, for example, AutoNotfunk, an emergency radio device that could be integrated into the dashboard of motor vehicles and in the event of an accident the relevant rescue control center was informed by radio. The radio signal should be received by a relay station and the location of the motor vehicle should be determined by means of observation masts. The necessary establishment of a nationwide network of directional masts and the equipment of the rescue control centers was estimated at one billion DM. The car emergency call system was supposed to supplement the conventional emergency call pillars and the antenna including installation was to cost around 500 DM per vehicle in 1984. The system could not prevail due to the high financing costs. Since 2010, however, a similar automatic system including GPS location and / or cell phone location has been offered for motor vehicles, see eCall . See also Tele-Aid .

Emergency call for the hearing impaired


People with hearing or speech impairments have the option of calling for help by fax in an emergency , as only a few control centers had writing telephones .

The rescue and fire brigade control centers are equipped very differently. Many now have an emergency fax machine, which is monitored around the clock. These emergency fax machines can be reached, depending on the control center, via the "normal" emergency number 112 or via their own number. The incoming emergency faxes are accepted here and mostly confirmed to the sender by the dispatcher. In some control centers, the faxes sent to the emergency fax numbers are output to the dispatchers in digital form (on the dispatcher's computer) for further processing. Corresponding associations and interest groups have been campaigning for the uniform introduction of emergency fax machines via a uniform telephone number for years, but politicians are still having a hard time making a decision. Various organizations offer a form for an emergency fax on the Internet, which can be printed out and placed on the fax machine with the personal data. In an emergency, all you have to do is tick the type of help you want and send the fax.

Fax-enabled cell phones or portable fax machines are particularly suitable for mobile use .

The InstantHelp app was released in March 2019. With this it is possible nationwide to transmit an emergency call in standardized form to the officially responsible control center without a telephone call. The system works at Police 110 and Ambulance / Fire Brigade 112 and is free. The transmission to the control center takes place by fax and does not allow any queries.

In addition, an emergency call via app with consultation options (chat function) is currently in the test phase. The project called "Salus" is being implemented by bevuta IT GmbH from Cologne and funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy . It is being tested at selected control centers .


In Austria you can make an emergency call by fax, SMS and e-mail. Help can be called via the free telephone number 0800 133133 or the e-mail address gehoerlosennotruf@polizei.gv.at, the reception and processing is carried out by the radio station of the Vienna State Police Department . In addition, an emergency call app called "Rescue" is offered, with which it is possible to notify the responsible emergency department by pressing a button of an emergency situation. This app works in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and mountain regions in Slovakia.


In Switzerland, an emergency can be reported via the Procom telephone exchange ; the police, fire brigade, medical services or Rega can be called:

  • with a writing phone on 0844 850 890
  • go to the procom-deaf.ch/text website and instead of «mediation» select «emergency»
  • by SMS to the telephone number 079 702 01 00, with "emergency" being entered at the beginning of the message. The questions should be answered according to the emergency reporting scheme .

Emergency call by radio

According to the Implementing Regulations for the Radio Service (VO Funk) in the last official German translation from 1982, Art. 39, § 1, which has since been superseded, the following applied:

“The emergency call has absolute priority over any other traffic. All radio stations that hear him must immediately stop any transmission that could disrupt the emergency traffic and continue to listen to the frequency on which the emergency call is being sent ... "

In principle, an alarm is also possible on various radio frequencies. To do this, however, you must have an appropriate radio device . This comes with costs and training requirements. The international emergency call " MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY " is used in voice radio, and " SOS " in Morse code CW . The SOS signal is given like a long Morse code with no pause between the characters.

Emergency call in CB radio

In CB radio , channel 9 AM (27.065 MHz) is used as an emergency channel. In Central Europe, CB radio can not make an emergency call directly to a permanently manned control center . It is therefore advisable to use means of communication that enable the reliable sending of an emergency call directly to a permanently manned control center. For example: mobile phone or satellite communication .

Emergency call in amateur radio

In principle, every amateur radio frequency on which an emergency call is made automatically becomes an emergency radio frequency . The following emergency frequencies have been agreed internationally for the amateur radio service :

Frequency range tape frequency Operating mode description
Shortwave 80 m 3760 kHz all Activity center Region 1 emergency radio
40 m 7110 kHz
20 m 14300 kHz Activity center for worldwide emergency radio
17 m 18160 kHz
15 m 21360 kHz
Ultra-short wave 2 m 145.500 MHz FM (Mobile) call frequency
70 cm 433.500 MHz international call frequency

The wide spread of the frequencies over several amateur radio bands makes it possible to establish intercontinental connections and thus in particular to cover the seas. At the same time, all radio amateurs are required to keep these frequencies free if a (natural) catastrophe has occurred anywhere in the world. With transmission powers in the range of a few watts, one is able to reach other amateur radio stations worldwide . You just have to choose the right amateur radio band depending on the radio weather and the target area.

The chance that someone will overhear on these frequencies is greater than on other frequencies. In addition, there are the frequencies of relay radio stations on which an emergency call can be made. The disadvantage of the relays are the different frequencies; the frequency ranges are documented in corresponding band plans .

Emergency calls in connection with the current (GPS) position can be sent out via the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS). There is a special "Emergency" symbol and a corresponding status text for this purpose. Listening to the amateur radio frequencies is legal for everyone with a CE-marked receiver (world receiver, scanner) (as opposed to listening to the BOS radio ), you only need a license to participate in the amateur radio service for sending .

In Central Europe, amateur radio can not make an emergency call directly to a permanently manned control center . It is therefore advisable to use 112 through the use of means of communication that enable the reliable transmission of an emergency call directly to a permanently manned control center. For example: mobile phone or satellite communication . In the event of failure or overload of all terrestrial, infrastructure-based means of communication ( landline telephony , cellular network , authority radio network (BOS / BORS radio)) and in the event of overloaded satellite communication or a lack of satellite communication means, the disaster radio can enable the forwarding of emergency calls.

Emergency call in the authorities radio network (BOS / BORS radio)

In German-speaking countries, the digital radio solution of the authorities' radio network is called:

known. In Germany and Austria, the switch from analog radio to the digital solution of the authority radio network ( TETRA ) is in progress . In Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein, the switch to Polycom ( Tetrapol ) has already been completed.

Emergency call in the German BOS radio

In some federal states, emergency calls can be made in the analog BOS radio networks in addition to the normal addressing of the remote station by pressing the FMS status key "0" or, depending on the region, also "9" if the radio device used is equipped with FMS status transmitters. If a radio subscriber sends the status "0" or "9", an alarm is triggered at the respective control center. The identification of the vehicle or wireless subscriber appears on the screen . At the same time, the alarming radio device is switched to the transmit mode for a short time (usually 30–60 seconds) so that all radio participants can hear sounds in the alarming vehicle. This is not to be confused with status 9 in Bavaria, although this is sometimes referred to as an emergency call, it is defined as an “urgent request to speak”; this is intended for urgent messages to the control center that should have priority over status 5 (request to speak), but are still subject to an emergency call.

In most federal states, digital BOS radio has meanwhile replaced analog radio. An orange button is now provided for triggering the emergency call, the status "0" is a prioritized speech request according to the OPTA guidelines. In addition to the functions already available in the analog area, the GPS position (if a module is installed) is now also transmitted to the control center and all radio devices that are switched to the same paging group signal to the users optically and acoustically by displaying the OPTA paging name that a Emergency call is active.

The general emergency call channel in the analog BOS network is 444 intercom / sub-band (76.155 / 85.955 MHz). Depending on the local control center, activation takes place via tone 1 or 2. If the local channel is not known, an emergency call can be made via this channel. As a rule, he then runs into a police station that reports directly to the Ministry of the Interior.

In the current " Fire Service Regulations 7 Respiratory Protection", Mayday is prescribed as an emergency call for those who wear breathing apparatus.

Emergency call in Polycom (Switzerland)

In addition to the cellular network, the digital authority radio network Polycom in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein offers probably the best network coverage of all terrestrial radio solutions for two-way communication. Especially in mountainous regions it can happen that an emergency call is possible with a Polycom handheld radio , where there is no cellular reception and the REGA emergency call channel (161.300 MHz) also fails. Examples of such mountain regions are:

An emergency call is received by a Polycom radio station and relayed to the police emergency call center.

Emergency call via emergency channel (161.300 MHz)

Handheld radio for the emergency channel

In some regions of the Alps it is possible to make an emergency call in the 2-meter band on the frequency 161.300 MHz ("E-channel", "Emergency" or "Notrufkanal"). This emergency call is received by a radio station of the radio network operated for this purpose and forwarded to the permanently manned control center. Alerting to a permanently manned control center via the emergency call channel is possible in the following regions:

Areas with the possibility of making an emergency call via the "emergency call channel"
region Control center manned all the time Radio network operator
Switzerland (without Valais ) REGA -Einsatzzentrale REGA (Regacom)
Valais KWRO (VIVA) KWRO and REGA (Regacom)
Haute-Savoie SDIS 74 (CODIS) SDIS 74
Aosta Valley COR Protezione Civile Valle d'Aosta

The "emergency call channel" is available to everyone (the population, offices and authorities) exclusively for alerting in emergencies. Help in emergencies can be requested via the emergency or emergency radio channel using an approved radio device. An emergency call should only be made via the emergency or emergency radio channel if there is no cellular reception and no telephone is available in the vicinity.

The radio network operated for the emergency call channel allows the Search and Rescue emergency services to be reliably alerted via the "emergency call channel" with a handheld radio if there is line of sight to a radio station. If the 1st Fresnel zone is free of any obstacles, such as bushes, trees, rocks, house and hut walls, a handheld radio can reliably send an emergency call over the "emergency call channel" to the radio station in visual contact.

If there is no line of sight to a radio station, alarming via the "emergency call channel" with handheld radios is unreliable or even impossible. In such cases, the emergency call can be made via satellite phone or PLB .

Another alternative in Switzerland is the use of a Polycom handheld radio. Polycom has a significantly larger number of radio stations than the emergency call channel. This generally leads to better network coverage, especially on the valley floor. The "emergency call channel" usually enables a reliable alarm to be sent to mountain peaks and mountain ridges , but on the valley floor , an emergency call can generally not be made via the "emergency call channel". The test button on the handheld radio can be used to test whether a possible emergency call can be made via the "emergency call channel".

Technical information on alerting:

Alarm: alarm button or 5-tone call 21414 ( ZVEI -1/2); Acknowledgment: 3 long tones and the control center answers.

Test: test button or 5-tone call 21301 ( ZVEI -1/2); Acknowledgment: 2 long tones.

The permanently occupied control center is alerted with the selective call and is only possible with tone squelch 123.0 Hz ( CTCSS )! Exception: In Switzerland, the control center can also be reached without a squelch.

The "emergency call channel" is based on an analog data transmission method with frequency modulation . The advantages of a digital data transmission method , such as forward error correction , are not used for the "emergency call channel". This is already one reason why , if possible, the mobile phone should be used instead of the handheld radio for making an emergency call.

At elevated locations, cell phone reception can be unreliable or non-existent for various technical reasons, although there is a line of sight to a cell phone antenna and good to very good cell phone reception is signaled with 4 or more signal bars on the display of the cell phone. As an example of such elevated sites directly to those are Swiss Plateau adjacent ridges of the Jura and the Alps to name.

In the 3G / UMTS cellular network, the reason for the unreliable cellular reception at these locations is a poor Ec / Io value. UMTS is a single frequency network . All UMTS cellular radio antennas of a cellular service provider transmit a 5 MHz wide UMTS cellular signal on the same frequency. The mobile phone can filter out the received UMTS cellular signal from the nearest cellular antenna using the coding ( CDM ).

At elevated locations, the mobile phone can receive the UMTS cellular signal from numerous cellular antennas. If the signal strength of the overall signal ( RSSI ) of all received cell phone signals from all cell phone antennas is significantly greater than the signal strength of the strongest received individual signal (RSCP) from a single cell phone antenna, the mobile phone can no longer filter the individual signal out of the overall signal . If the mobile phone can no longer filter out the individual signal from the overall signal (Ec / Io <−11 dB), voice telephony via the UMTS cellular network can be unreliable. An Ec / Io> −9 dB is required for reliable registration in the 3G / UMTS cellular network.

At elevated locations, cellular reception in the 2G / GSM , 4G / LTE and 5G cellular networks can be disrupted by the cellular signal from other cellular antennas that transmit on the same radio frequency . These spurious signals degrade the carrier-to-interference ratio (C / I).

A handheld radio for the emergency call channel is a suitable addition to the mobile phone at elevated locations with unreliable or no mobile phone reception. At lower altitudes, the emergency call can be sent reliably via the mobile phone and at higher altitudes with the handheld radio via the emergency call channel to the radio station in line of sight. The radio network for the "emergency call channel" is also a single frequency network, but works without code division multiple access (CDM). Thanks to the low radio frequency in the VHF range, the emergency call channel works over great distances. With a line of sight to the radio station, the handheld radio can reliably establish a radio link to the radio station more than 50 kilometers away.


An emergency call can, for example , be transmitted with the conventional analog UIC train radio and the digital train radio GSM-R . Emergency calls can be triggered by the driver , the dispatcher , operational staff on the route (with a GSM-R handset) or the operations center.

In addition to the usual emergency call content, an emergency stop order can also be given as the content of the emergency call . In addition, certain messages, for example about sanding at low speed, if the responsible dispatcher cannot be reached via an emergency call. After the emergency announcement, the emergency call connection must be terminated in any case; additional information must be provided via a normal connection. However, if an emergency call connection is accidentally established, this must be reported before the connection is terminated.


International emergency frequencies for aviation are 121.5 MHz for civil and 243.0 MHz for military air traffic. The emergency call can be sent via a radio signal. However, it is also possible to signal the respective control center with “declare emergency”. As far as possible, the emergency call should contain information on the identification and position of the sender, the type and scope of threatened or occurred damage as well as the necessary assistance.

Aircraft equipped with ELT can automatically trigger the emergency call / distress signal in the event of a plane crash . The ELT can detect the aircraft crash with the help of an acceleration sensor (G-sensor) integrated in the ELT . The ELT alerts the search and rescue emergency services via the COSPAS / SARSAT satellite network .


In maritime shipping , emergency calls are made by distress signal or by radio in the global distress and safety radio system GMDSS ( Global Maritime Distress Safety System ) in order to draw attention to dangerous situations and to request assistance. Radio traffic knows different types of emergency calls, which are to be used depending on the urgency of the emergency. As far as possible, the emergency call should contain information on the identification and position of the sender, the type and scope of threatened or occurred damage and the necessary assistance.

  • 2182 kHz international calling and emergency frequency sea
  • 2187.5 kHz DSC - Digital selective calling for distress, safety and calling
  • Channel 70 (156.525 MHz) DSC - Digital selective calling for distress, safety and calling
  • Channel 16 (156.800 MHz) Emergency, urgency and security traffic in mobile marine radio

The German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People can also be reached via VHF channels 16 and 70 and Grenzwelle 2187.5 kHz .

Emergency calls / emergency signals can also be triggered and sent automatically, for example if a ship capsizes or sinks using a specially designed buoy . In this case, the EPIRB automatically triggers an alarm via the COSPAS / SARSAT satellite network in a sea emergency center, from where the search and rescue of the victim is controlled. Pyrotechnic distress signaling devices are also common in seafaring. See also Mayday , Pan-pan , SOS , distress , man overboard , marine radio .

On European coasts, 112 works via mobile phone.

Emergency call via satellite communication

Outside the cellular network coverage, the emergency call can usually only be made reliably via satellite communication . Basically, a line of sight between the transmitting and receiving antenna is required for a reliable radio link . In areas without cell phone reception, there is usually no reliable terrestrial radio for making an emergency call. In such regions, only satellite communication enables a reasonably reliable transmission of an emergency call.

In order for an emergency call to be made reliably via satellite communication, there must be line of sight to the satellite and the first Fresnel zone must be free of any obstacles. Satellite communication must take place in a frequency band that cannot be significantly disturbed by the earth's atmosphere. Radio frequencies in the L-band are therefore often used for reliable satellite communication with portable hand-held devices . So that the satellite communication cannot be disturbed by the vegetation , radio frequencies in the lower range of the UHF frequency band must be used (300–1000 MHz).

In areas with terrestrial radio reception in the VHF or UHF frequency band , an emergency call should always be made via terrestrial radio, mobile radio or a landline telephone. Terrestrial radio in the VHF or UHF frequency band is more reliable than any satellite communication with portable handheld devices. Terrestrial radio shows significantly larger average link margins in the inner area of ​​a radio cell than satellite communication. With large connection reserves, a radio link is possible even if there is no line of sight, for example if a hill , forest or building interrupts the line of sight between the transmitting and receiving antenna. The Earth's atmosphere and the Van Allen Belt protect terrestrial radio from cosmic disturbances such as solar weather and cosmic radiation .

Emergency beacon

Alerting via the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network

With distress beacons of emergency / distress signal can be triggered manually or automatically. The emergency beacon alerts the search and rescue emergency services via the global COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network . As a rule, small radio transmitters are used, with the help of which satellites or search and rescue forces can locate ships , people or aircraft in need of rescue .

Emergency radio beacons optimized for aviation are known as ELT (emergency locator transmitter). The emergency beacons optimized for personal use on land and in coastal waters, e.g. B. for hikers, skiers, canoeists, snowmobilers wear the designation PLB (personal locator beacon). EPIRB is the designation for emergency radio beacons optimized for shipping , but also serves as a generic term for emergency radio beacons regardless of their area of ​​application, since the alerting works according to the same principles for everyone.

Thanks to the MEOSAR satellites, the emergency radio beacon, which alarms via the global COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network, is the most reliable means of communication for making emergency calls in regions without cell phone reception. At least one COSPAS-SARSAT satellite is practically always very high in the sky , which ensures that an emergency call can be reliably made worldwide.

The emergency beacons alarming via the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network do not enable two-way communication with the search and rescue forces.

Alerting via a commercial satellite network

In addition to the emergency beacons that alarm via the public COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network, there are also some emergency beacons available that alarm via a commercial satellite network. Noteworthy are:

The emergency beacons, which alarm via commercial satellite networks, are usually available in stores as GNSS trackers and often also offer the functions of a classic GNSS receiver . The emergency beacon alarming via a commercial satellite network can be used as a supplement to the emergency beacon alarming via the global COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network in regions without cell phone reception.

The same instructions and disadvantages apply to the emergency beacons alarming via the commercial satellite network as to the satellite telephones. The emergency beacons, alarming via commercial satellite network, enable indirect two-way communication with short messages with the search and rescue emergency services .

Satellite phone

In addition to the emergency beacon, which alarms via the global COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network, satellite telephones can be used in regions without cellular reception . Satellite telephones enable voice telephony even in regions without cell phone reception. Satellite phones generally do not offer worldwide reception. Before using a satellite phone, it should be clarified whether the satellite phone to be used has reception at all and whether the operator of the satellite network covers this region. The position of the satellite in the sky should also be clarified for the region of operation. With a smart phone - app for satellite tracking , the current location of the satellite can be calculated in the sky. The satellite tracking app requires current TLE data to calculate the current satellite location.

Worldwide reception is possible via the Iridium satellite network, but the Iridium reception may temporarily fail. In the event of an Iridium reception failure, an object is in the first Fresnel zone and interferes with the line of sight from the satellite telephone to the satellite. Iridium satellites are sometimes very low in the sky outside the polar region . As a result, satellite communications over the Iridium satellite network are very susceptible to line of sight interference. That is why the emergency beacon, which alarms via the global COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network, is the more reliable means of communication for making emergency calls in regions with no cell phone reception.

Satellite phones use L-band radio frequencies . Therefore, satellite telephones do not allow reliable satellite communication if vegetation protrudes into the first Fresnel zone and interferes with the line of sight from the satellite telephone to the satellite.

When making an emergency call via satellite phone, it should be noted that satellite phones generally do not support dialing three-digit emergency numbers, such as "112". When dialing a telephone number, the country code is mandatory for satellite telephones ! Exceptions are the emergency numbers in the Iridium satellite network:

  • 911 in the US mainland
  • 000 and 112 in mainland Australia

Emergency calls over the Internet using Voice over IP

At the moment it is not possible to make an emergency call over the Internet without using a landline gateway. There is neither a SIP address nor an ENUM entry.

In the USA, VoIP providers must also enable their customers' telephones to reach the local emergency control center on the emergency number 911 and that information about the location of the telephone and its number is automatically transmitted to them. In several European countries and, following a decision by the EU, possibly also in all member states, similar provisions are expected to be enacted once the ongoing consultation procedures have been concluded.

In Germany, according to currently applicable law, every provider of telecommunications services for the public is obliged to guarantee the routing of emergency calls to the respective control centers. However, VoIP providers often try to circumvent this requirement by introducing restrictive clauses in their terms and conditions . With the publication of the Emergency Call Ordinance at the latest, a uniform procedure for VoIP will become mandatory for all providers.

Some providers of IP telephony solve this by recording a subscriber's address when they register and making this available to the emergency call center. As long as the participant only uses his connection from the registered address, localization is possible. The nomadic use (use at a different location than the registered address) naturally makes this localization impossible; consequently some providers prohibit this.


Deliberately or knowingly making an unjustified emergency call is an offense in Germany ( Section 145 StGB ). The abuse also creates an obligation to pay damages to the organizations involved and others. In Austria, misuse is punishable under Section 1 of the Federal Act of May 24, 1929 against the misuse of emergency signs. The abuse is punished similarly in other states.

On the other hand, everyone is obliged to provide assistance and otherwise is guilty of failure to provide assistance ( Section 323c of the Criminal Code). The legislature assumes that the sending or forwarding of an emergency call should be reasonable for everyone at any time. The fire protection laws of the German federal states clearly state that everyone is obliged to forward hazard reports immediately (for example in the BHKG (NRW) § 42 reporting obligation).

While in Germany, as in other countries, it was possible to make an emergency call via 110 or 112 without an active SIM card in the mobile phone, this option was canceled in 2009 due to the increasing number of fraudulent calls.

In the USA, swatting, a special form of emergency call abuse, has developed. Serious crimes in the house of a celebrity or an unpopular person are reported by means of an anonymous phone call to the police so that a SWAT team storms the reported property, with the risk of property damage and personal injury for the residents of the house. Insofar as the caller can be identified later, he has to bear the costs of the SWAT mission, sometimes in the five-digit range, in addition to the legal consequences.

Emergency call center

Berlin police emergency call center

In the emergency call center , emergency reports are received , assessed and forwarded to the responsible authorities or organizations. Many countries operate a central emergency call center that can be reached under a single telephone number. In Europe this is the single emergency number 112 .

In some countries there are different telephone numbers for the police (crimes and traffic accidents), for the fire brigade (fire) and for the emergency services (accidents and serious injuries).

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Emergency call  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

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