Emergency and Rescue services in France

EmergencyEmergency call numbers are telephone numbers for reaching public emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These numbers are generally short and free.

Like several Western countries where such a system was already in place, the Ministry of Health French asked that a free emergency call number be reserved for him, but it was not until 1978 that the number 15 was allocated to him on an experimental basis for two years. In 1986, each SAMU received the number 15 as a single call number at department level.



  • Gendarmerie / police (Rescue police): 17
  • SAMU (medical rescue): 15 or 112
  • Firefighters : 18 or 112
  • SOS deaf / hard of hearing: 114 (Accessible by fax, or SMS only), (all emergencies)
  • SAMU social (SOS Sans Shelter): 115
  • Missing children: 116,000
  • Childhood in danger – being put into service and intended to eventually replace the 119: 116,111
  • Doctor on call: 116,117 
  • Child abuse: 119
  • Aeronautical emergency (to be used in the event of accident or disappearance of an aircraft): 191
  • Maritime emergency (to be used by witnesses of maritime accidents from the coast; at sea, the preferred means remains channel 16 maritime distress 196
  • Abduction / attacks alert (this number will be activated only within the framework of the triggering of the kidnapping alert, or an attack alert): 19716
  • Maritime medical consultation center, telephone, marine radiotelephone, Inmarsat M and Mini M: 00 33 5 61 49 33 33
  • Speleo Rescue French : 0 800 121 123
  • Info Covid-19 for non-medical services, open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 0 800 130 000


The emergency numbers allow you to contact the emergency services free of charge 24 hours a day. However, too much abuse or misdirected calls still unnecessarily overload the phone lines.

Each year, nearly 4,300,000 interventions are carried out by firefighters, i.e. 11,700 interventions per day. As for the SAMU, it receives nearly 2,500 calls a day. However, this number of calls received does not necessarily correspond to emergency situations. It is estimated that, in more than 30% of cases, the response provided consists solely of information or medical advice.


A better informed citizen helps the emergency services to intervene in better conditions and as quickly as possible.


In any case, to facilitate and speed up the processing of your call, sure to specify the following 3 points :

  • You are a victim, a witness… Give a telephone number on which you can be reached.
  • Give the precise address of the place where the services must intervene, especially if you are not there.
  • State the reasons for your appeal.

Do not forget to express yourself clearly to your interlocutor. The time you spend on the phone is never useless, never delays the intervention and allows the best response to the emergency for which you are calling.


Finally, listen carefully to the advice given on what to do before help arrives. Your behavior can save a life.


European emergency number: 112

Why call 112?

An accident can happen anytime and anywhere, even when visiting a country in the European Union. If you are involved in or witness an accident or if you notice a fire or see a burglary, you can call 112 (reachable from a landline, mobile or phone box).


112 is the single European emergency number, available free of charge anywhere in the European Union. This number does not replace existing national emergency numbers. In most countries, it cohabits with them. Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Romania have even chosen 112 as their main national emergency number. 112 also exists in some countries outside the EU (such as Switzerland and South Africa) and is available worldwide on GSM mobile networks.

I call 112 for any emergency requiring an ambulance, the fire services or the police.

Do not hang up if you call 112 by mistake! Explain to the operator that everything is fine. If not, emergency help may need to be dispatched to ensure there are no problems.


Samu: 15

Why call 15?

The Emergency Medical Aid Service (SAMU) can be called to obtain the intervention of a medical team in the event of a life-threatening situation, as well as to be redirected to a permanent care organization (general medicine, ambulance transport, …)


I call 15

  • in case of urgent medical need
  • in case of malaise
  • in case of coma
  • in case of hemorrhage
  • in case of chest pain (this can be a heart attack and requires very rapid intervention, death can occur quickly )
  • in the event of breathing difficulties (especially if the person is asthmatic or cardiac or that this occurs during a meal)
  • when a person does not breathe
  • when you are in the presence of a burnt
  • in the event of intoxication
  • etc.


Police / Gendarmerie: 17

In what situations should you call 17?

I call 17 when I am in danger or when I see that someone is in danger :

  • in the event of violence
  • in the event of an assault
  • in the event of purse robbery in the
  • event of burglary
  • etc.

 Call processing at 17:

Your call will be taken care of immediately by the processing center at 17 “rescue police” which will send the nearest patrol to the site and adapt to your emergency (national police or gendarmerie depending on the area of competence). Keep your composure as much as possible, give your exact location, the nature of the emergency, the number of assailants and their description, note the plate numbers, indicate the direction of escape, etc.

In the event of a non-urgent call, i.e. to report to the police an incident which does not require immediate intervention, contact the police station or the gendarmerie brigade closest to the scene of the incident or your residence.



Firefighters: 18

Why call 18?

Firefighters can be called to report a situation of danger or an accident involving property or people and obtain their rapid intervention.


I call 18 in the event of:

  • fire
  • gas leak
  • risk of collapse
  • burial
  • burns
  • electrocution
  • road accident
  • etc.


Rescue at sea: 196

Why call 196?

By dialing 196, the caller is put directly in touch with the operational center for surveillance and rescue at sea (CROSS), the only State body competent to coordinate means of intervention for the safety of human life at sea. I


call 196 as a witness or victim:

  • in a situation of distress at sea, in
  • an emergency at sea,
  • in case of concern for anyone at sea who has not given any news,
  • for anything observed at sea that appears to be abnormal,
  • etc.

Aeronautical emergency: 191

Why call 191?

The aeronautical emergency call number 191 can be used by any user in a distress situation, by any direct witness of an aircraft accident, or by any person concerned about the disappearance of an aircraft and its occupants.

From a landline or mobile phone, 191 is a free, usable 24 hours, 7 days, intended exclusively for handling aeronautical emergency calls.

Call 191 allows aeronautical rescue coordination centers in mainland France and overseas to initiate search and rescue operations for the occupants of aircraft in distress or presumed to be such.


Emergency number for the deaf and hard of hearing: 114

This single national emergency number is accessible, initially, by FAX or SMS. He does not receive telephone voice calls. Faxes and SMS sent to “114” arrive at the national relay center located at the University Hospital Center of Grenoble. Deaf and hearing professionals specifically trained then process these messages and contact the competent emergency services (police / gendarmerie, SAMU, fire brigade), if the situation requires their intervention.

Why call 114?

Any deaf or hard-of-hearing person, victim or witness of an emergency situation which requires the intervention of the emergency services, can now dial “114”, free number, open 7 days a week, 24 hours.


For more information: Deaf Information Center


Specific number in the event of a crisis

Depending on the crisis, the public authorities can provide the population with a telephone number enabling them to obtain personalized behavioral information on the current crisis.