When you’re in an emergency, the last thing you want to be doing is googling what phone number you should call and how to call it. Here are five important phone numbers in France that you should memorize or put into your contacts now.
For immediate medical help, you call SAMU (service d’aide medicale urgente) who arrive with an ambulance. Things that need immediate medical help include coma, hemorrhage, severe chest pain, respiratory difficulties or when someone isn’t breathing, extreme burns, alcohol poisoning, and other urgent medical emergencies.
To report a crime that requires an immediate police response like violence or assault, burglary, pickpocketing, or mugging, call the police (gendarmes).
For fire, gas leaks, risk of building collapse, electrocution, road accidents, or anything else that requires a rapid response, you should call the fire department (sapeurs pompiers). They should be the first people you call in life threatening situations because they’re also trained to respond to medical emergencies.
Universal European Emergency Services: 112
Any time you have an emergency you can call 112 and operators who speak French, English, and over 30 other languages will be able to get you the appropriate service, whether it be an ambulance, the police, or firemen. (The phone number for if you need hearing assistance, either because you’re hard of hearing or can’t talk, is 114.)
Doctor on call: 116 117
If it’s Sunday and you’re feeling flu-y or maybe your kid has a climbing fever in the middle of night… don’t call emergency services. Instead, call 116 117 for free, and get a doctor sent to your location for a consultation.
If you remember any of these numbers, 112 is the one. You can call 112 from an American cellphone number (i.e., a phone with an American SIM card in it) or a French cellphone number and talk with an operator who speaks your language. That number can get you assistance from any of the people that would help you by calling 15, 17, or 18. Besides 112, the rest of the numbers must be called from French cellphones.