What is the emergency service number in Australia?

Most people would know that Triple Zero (000) is Australia’s primary emergency service number and should be used if urgent emergency assistance is required from either police, fire, or ambulance services. These calls are free from all kinds of phone. However, did you know that Australia also has two secondary emergency service numbers that only work with particular technologies?

  • 112 is the GSM international standard emergency number which can only be dialled on a digital mobile phone. 
  • 106 is the text-based emergency number for people who are deaf, or who have a hearing or speech impairment. This service operates using a textphone (TTY) or a computer with modem access. 

Some history.

The world’s oldest emergency phone number is the United Kingdom’s 999 number that was introduced on June 30, 1937. It was implemented after a call to the fire brigade was held in a queue with the telephone company. Sadly, the delay cost five women their lives in the fire.

What happens when I call?

When you dial 000 you will first hear the recorded message ‘You have dialled emergency Triple Zero. Your call is being connected.’  Your call is then answered by a Telstra operator who will ask whether you require police, fire or ambulance. Once you are transferred to the Ambulance service, they will ask you for your current location rather than what is wrong with the patient – which may seem a little strange. However, this is in case the call drops out or if you were to collapse, or go unconscious, so they can get an Ambulance dispatched to your location. Please find the name of the nearest cross street as they will need that to narrow down your location and get the Ambulance to you faster. Next, they will ask if you are calling for yourself or another person and if it is another person they will ask if they can come to the phone. Remain calm, stay focused, and breathe normally. 

In extreme events, such as major bushfires or storms, there may be a short delay in answer due to an unexpected influx of calls. You should stay on the line in these instances otherwise you will lose your place in the queue.

What is the benefit of using the Emergency+ smartphone app to call Triple Zero (000)? A significant advantage of using the Emergency+ smartphone app to call 000 is that if you do not know your exact location, it uses the existing GPS functionality of your smartphone to enable you to provide emergency call-takers with your location information as determined by your smartphone.

The Emergency+ app also contains the contact numbers and a short explanation of when to call non-emergency numbers such as the Police Assistance Line (131 444) and the SES national number (132 500). This is to help you to dial the correct number and reduce the number of calls to Triple Zero that should be directed to another service. The app was developed by the Triple Zero Awareness Work Group, a national body that represents emergency call-taking agencies and the government and industry partners throughout Australia. The Emergency+ app is available to download free of charge from the Google Play store and Apple App store.  

Some interesting statistics on the Ambulance Services across Australia.  Nationally in 2017-18, there were:

  • 3.7 million incidents reported to ambulance service organisations.
  • 4.6 million responses where an ambulance was sent to an incident. There can be multiple responses sent to a single incident. There can also be responses to incidents that do not have people requiring treatment/transport.
  • 3.5 million patients assessed, treated or transported by ambulance service organisations.
  • And, the time within which ambulance resources arrived at the scene of an emergency in code 1 situations was:
    • in capital cities ranged from 14.1 minutes (WA) to 20.8 minutes (NSW).
    • statewide it ranged from 14.7 minutes (ACT) to 29.4 minutes (Tasmania).

Our Paramedics are certainly kept busy and perhaps the most relevant statistic for parents/carers is the amount of time that it will take for an ambulance to arrive at your home in an emergency – up to 21 minutes for city dwellers and up to 30 minutes for our rural friends. If you add on the amount of time that it takes for a person to realise how serious the situation is and to call 000, a parent/carer may be keeping their child alive for 30 to 40 minutes. This is why it is vital to keep your first aid skills and knowledge current to give your child the best chance of survival.