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111 and 999 Overhanging boy

Which number should we call?

It is our parents’/carers’ responsibility to keep us safe and well. If you are unwell they may take you to see a doctor, but sometimes you or someone you know may need extra help, especially in an emergency.

Usually, it will be an adult that will make this call. There may be times when you have to make the call for others. There are two NHS phone lines that can be called any time of day or night for medical help. These are 111 and 999, and you need to know which one to use.


You use this number when you need medical help fast, but it’s not a 999 emergency. You will be asked a few questions about how you are feeling and what is happening and you will then be told which local service will be best for you to use. They might say ‘book to see your GP tomorrow’, ‘go to the walk-in clinic’ or ‘this is an emergency and we are calling you an ambulance’.


Use this number only in an emergency. The operator will ask you a number of questions so they can understand the situation and what help you need, and will then send an ambulance to you.

What is an emergency?

It might be…

  • An accident.
  • Someone who has stopped breathing.
  • Someone who does not answer you when you speak to them. They may be ‘unconscious’.
  • Someone who has become unwell due to a medical illness like asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or a severe allergy.
Riddle me this!
Which number should you call in an emergency?
quiz girl right
quiz girl right
quiz girl right
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999 is for emergencies, 111 is for getting medical advice - it's important to know the difference.
Nurse holding image