What to do if you need to call 999 but can't talk

14 April 2019, 10:26 | Updated: 14 April 2019, 12:38

Girl on phone
If you're in danger and cannot speak there is a service you can use. Picture: Getty

By Beci Wood

You never know when this may come in handy.

It's hoped that you will never need to know this, but police are raising awareness of a service which is available should you be in danger but for some reason are not able to speak.

Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have launched a campaign called “Make Yourself Heard” to increase awareness of a system called Silent Solution.

Surprisingly the service has been in operation since 2002 but sadly many people still don't know anything about it.

An ambulance attends an emergency. Picture: Getty

If you call 999 and the operator doesn't get a response he or she will ask you to respond using a cough or other audible indication you need help.

If you are unable to make any sound at all, you will be put through to Silent Solution which will ask you to press 55 to be put through to your local police force.

The IOPC explains: “The BT operator will remain on the line and listen. If you press 55, they will be notified and transfer the call to the police. If you don’t press 55, the call will be terminated. Pressing 55 does not allow police to track your location.”

999 operator
999 operator. Picture: Getty

Using yes and no questions the police will then try and communicate. They add: “If you are unable to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so they can assess your call and arrange help if needed."

Regional director Catrin Evans said: "It is always best to actually speak to a police call handler if you can, even if by whispering, but if you are putting yourself or someone else in danger by making a sound, there is something you can do.

"Make yourself heard by coughing, tapping the handset or - once prompted by the automated system - by pressing 55."

Air ambulance
Air ambulance service. Picture: Getty

You can also text the emergency services by sending an SMS message to the UK 999 service which is then passed onto the police, ambulance, fire rescue or coastguard.

However you can only do this is you register your phone number in advance so do this today as you never know if you may need it.

In order to do this text “register” to 999 and you will then receive a message confirming that you are on the system.

Then, in an emergency, you will need to text which service you require, explain the problem and give the location.

They say: “Give the name of the road, house number, postcode, or nearby landmark, if possible,” 

You should then receive a response confirming help is on the way or asking for more information within two minutes. If after three minutes you have not had a reply you are advised to get help another way.

Around 5,000 of the 20,000 silent 999 calls made daily are put through to an automated system.

A police spokesperson said: "Please do not think that just because you dial 999 that police will attend.

"We totally understand that sometimes people are unable or too afraid to talk, however it must be clear that we will not routinely attend a silent 999 call.

"There must be some indication that the call has not been mis-dialled."