In Case of Emergency

When should you call 999 or 112?

Always call 999/112 if someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at risk.

If it is not a life-threatening emergency and you, or the person you are with, does not need immediate medical attention, consider the options below before you dial 999:

– Look after yourself or the patient at home. If you cannot stay at home, see if family or friends are able to help
– Talk to your local pharmacist
– Visit or call your GP
– Make your own way to your hospital accident & emergency department

The Emergency Services receive a large number of calls for patients who do not require an emergency response from an ambulance on blue lights and sirens but who could be treated more appropriately using a different pathway of care. Choose the best treatment for your needs. It allows the Emergency Services to help the people who need it the most.

What happens when you dial 999 or 112?

When ambulance calls are received in the control centre they are answered immediately. The call taker will ask the caller for their telephone number, incident location and what the issue is with the patient. In order to double check this information, the staff member repeats all these details back to the caller. The call takers and dispatchers use software to put the call into one of three categories above based on its urgency and ensure an appropriate response is sent. Each call is given a response appropriate to its categorisation.

Emergency 999 or 112 calls to the Schull Fire Brigade, Irish Coast Guards and ambulance service are prioritised into three categories to ensure life-threatening cases receive the quickest response:

Immediately life threatening – if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. Examples of medical emergencies include (but are not limited to): if some chest pain, difficulty in breathing, unconsciousness, severe loss of blood, severe burns or scalds, choking, fitting or concussion, drowning or severe allergic reactions
Serious, but not life threatening illnesses or injuries
All other calls – for conditions that are not life threatening

Call takers in the control centre use an Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System (AMPDS), which uses information gathered from the caller, to prioritise the call and to make sure right ambulance resource is sent to the scene.

The call takers can also provide medical advice to the caller, while the ambulance or fire tenders are en route, which ensures that there is no time lost in providing medical care.

What information do I need when I call 999 or 112?

When you call the Emergency Services an operator will ask you which service you need. If it’s a medical emergency, ask for the ambulance service, if is a fire emergency, ask for fire, if it is an accident at sea or on the shore, ask for coast guards and you will be transferred to an appropriate call-taker. You may be asked what area you are call from.

You will need to have the following information available when you call the service :

– The location where you are
– The phone number you are calling from
– Exactly what has happened

As soon as the Emergency Services knows where you are they will start arranging help for you.


Questions you may be asked:

– Is there anyone in the building (persons reported/injured)
– Attached to other properties
– Exact location
– Local landmarks to help identify the location

Medical information

You may also be asked to give some extra information, including:

– The patient’s age, gender and any medical history
– Whether the patient is awake/conscious, breathing and if there is any serious bleeding or chest pain
– Details of the injury and how it happened
– Answering these questions will not delay us, but it will help us give you important first aid advice while our staff are on their way.

Sinking boat

Questions you may be asked:

– What is your name and contact number
– What is your location? Please provide as much detail as possible.
– What is the nature of the emergency?
– How many people are involved?
– Are there any injuries? If so, what type and severity?
– What is the current weather conditions and sea state?
– What is the condition of the vessel or craft involved?
– Are there any hazards nearby that could affect the rescue operation?
– Do you have any emergency equipment or survival gear on board?
– Are you able to make any changes to your current situation to improve safety, such as dropping anchor or heading for shore?

Missing person at sea

If you call the Irish Coast Guard to report a missing person at sea, they may ask you the following questions:

– What is your name and contact number?
– What is the name of the missing person and their last known location?
– When was the person last seen, and what were they wearing?
– What type of vessel or craft were they on, and was anyone else with them?
– Did the missing person have any equipment or survival gear with them, such as a life jacket or a radio?
– What were the weather conditions and sea state like at the time of the disappearance?
– Have you or anyone else conducted a search, and if so, what areas have been covered?
– Are there any additional factors that could affect the search and rescue operation, such as currents or wind patterns?
– Is there any other information you can provide that may be helpful in locating the missing person, such as their medical history or any recent activity?
– Finally, it’s important to ask if the person reporting the incident is safe and if they require any assistance.

Answering these questions will not delay the Emergency Services but will help them give you important first-aid advice while the staff is on their way.

What can I do before help arrives?

Before help arrives, the call takers and dispatchers will talk you through steps you can take, such as:

– If you are in the street, stay with the patient until help arrives
– Call us back if the patient’s condition changes
– Call us again if your location changes
– If you are calling from home or work, ask someone to open the doors and signal where the ambulance staff are needed
– Lock away any family pets
– If you can, write down the patient’s GP details and collect any medication that they are taking
– Tell us if the patient has any allergies
– Stay calm—our staff are there to help

Who will treat you?

The Emergency services have a range of multi-skilled staff who will rescue, treat and transport our patients including:

– Advanced paramedics
– Paramedics
– All our fire crews are paramedics

The Emergency Services are here to help you in times of need, but it’s important to prioritise safety and take preventative measures. By following their recommendations, being aware of potential hazards, and being prepared, you can work together to ensure the safety of the community. Stay safe!