This is why you have to call fireman in France

So all about the emergency services in Lyon

Here, I can say I’m kind of specialist when it comes to the usage of the u emergency services in France. I have tested it too many times and so l thought l could explain you how this system is working in France, what you should do and so you are prepared when something unexpected, painful happens when you are in France. But before doing so, I ll just confirm that there is nothing wrong with me (as l write this post anyway 😉)and I’m currently feeling very well 👍. The same for you, it is the last thing l would like you to end up in the emergency in France so l am writing this post and deep inside me I hope it ll be useless 😉 what I mean is I hope you don’t need to use the information l wrote about and you keep it just in case!

How to call for help in France

I have gathered for you some not all facts about emergency services in France. Feel free to add others if you know any:

  • the pan-European emergency number 112 can be called for any type of emergency and after, an operator will direct you to the appropriate French department.  Very useful if you don’t speak French. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing could send text messages to 114.
  • You can see which numbers to call depending on the emergency in France (in French).
  • The useful number to find out-of-hours doctors is: 116 117.
  • When it’s very serious, you call Ambulance and emergency services (SAMU): 15. SAMU (Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence) is the national, publicly run emergency service that deals only with very serious cases. The SAMU provides both ambulances and specialist medical teams.


  • Very helpful and important and used in most cases: 18. It’s the the French fire brigade, called les sapeurs pompiers. It is also  called in cases of emergencies. They provide an ambulance service with their specially equipped vans. In France, it is very often the fire brigade who are called first to deal with road injuries and domestic accidents and in many areas, especially rural regions, they will be fastest to the scene. They coordinate with all other emergency

Firefighters are coming

If you need to access French healthcare services or visit a French hospital, you may be asked to present French health insurance or private health insurance.

Now, some practical tips

Calling Emergency in France

  • Most people take their phone chargers when going to emergency…but there’s never enough plugs
  • There are one or two vending machines in the emergency – prepare to be hungry
  • Very nice staff working in emergency in France so it is very difficult to get angry at them when the queue is not moving forward
  • Take your phone with you once you are inside, it’s the best way to keep updated your family waiting

Calling for help in France

Bonus: when you are in France, there is also a volunteer-run SOS Helpline in English for residents living in France and beyond, providing support to expats on a range of issues, from how to understand a tax form to finding an English-speaking doctor, to dealing with loneliness and isolation, commonly felt by expats, or suicidal thoughts and breakdowns.

Now, some useful emergency phrases;

Police: La Police Nationale or gendarmerie

Fire brigade: Les sapeurs pompiers

Emergency services/ambulance: Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence or SAMU

Poisoning emergency: Urgence d’empoisonnement

Road emergency services: Services d’urgence routière

Emergency numbers: Numéros d’urgence

Iłt’s an emergency: C‘est un cas d’urgence.

My name is…: Je m’apelle…

My telephone number is…: Mon numéro de téléphone est…

I live at…: J’habite à…

Help!: Au secours!

Ambulance: une ambulance; J’ai besoin d’une ambulance. (I need an ambulance.)

Heart attack: une crise cardiaque: Mon mari fait une crise cardiaque. (My husband had a heart attack.)

Stroke: une attaque cérébrale; Je pense que ma femme a souffert une attaque cérébrale. (I think my wife suffered a stroke.)

Choke: s’étouffer; Mon bébé s’étouffe. (My baby is choking.)

Difficulty breathing/gasping: haleter or difficulté à respirer; J’ai difficulté à respirer. (I have difficulty breathing.)

To bleed: saigner; Je saigne beaucoup. (I am bleeding a lot.)

Diabetic: diabétique; Je suis diabétique. J’ai besoin d’insuline. (I need insulin).

Labour: accouchement/accoucher; Ma femme accouche; la poche des eaux a percé. (My wife is giving birth. Her water has broken.)

To be poisoned: s’empoisonner; Mon enfant s’est empoisonné. (My child has been poisoned.)

Calling for help in France

Probably, the emergency works similar in many countries but we need feel comfortable with using it. In any case I am happy l could write down some rules and facts about emergency services because even and especially me l tend to forget what to do when emergency comes. I hope you found it useful as well.


I am a Polish girl who felt in love with Lyon from the first sight! Jadorelyon is my way of exploring France, the French way of life, their cuisine, sharing the experience from visiting beautiful places in France. Jadorelyon is my new way of adding some Polish influence into French lives and watching on how they like it...

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