Nobody wants to be in a situation where they are forced to dial 999. After all, this usually indicates a worst-case scenario where emergency assistance is required immediately.
But by being properly prepared for every eventuality, you should be able to respond in a calm and composed way.
This is especially important if your safety could be compromised by speaking out loud. Here’s what you need to know.
Police advice for when you can’t speak out loud
In response to June’s terror attack on London Bridge, where eight people died and 48 were injured, the police re-issued advice about what to do if you are in a situation where you cannot speak out loud on the phone for fear of your safety.
It is known as Silent Solution 55, which allows calls to be made to police or another emergency service.
After calling 999, an operator will ask what emergency service you require before switching the call. If you cannot or do not speak, the operator will then ask you to cough or make another audible noise.
As you can imagine, this isn’t always possible, particularly if it alerts a potential attacker to your whereabouts. This can be quite traumatic too, as you know that emergency help is on the other end of the line but aren’t able to ask for it.
What’s more, emergency services do not have the resources to investigate whether every silent call to 999 is genuine or not. This is one of the main reasons for coming up with Silent Solution 55.
Silent Solution 55 – how it works
Silent Solution 55 is for when you do not make a noise after being asked. You will then be forwarded to an operating system, which is when you should press 55 on your keypad. If you don’t, the call will be terminated.
Although Silent Solution 55 has been in place for more than a decade, police felt the need to reissue a reminder about the protocol.
A police spokesman 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 misdialled.”
An alternative service – EmergencySMS
An alternative to Silent Solution 55 is EmergencySMS, which has been designed for deaf, hard of hearing, and speech-impaired people but could also be utilised by those who are unable to talk down the phone.
All you need to do is send an SMS text message to 999, where it will be passed to the police, ambulance, fire rescue, or coastguard. One of the advantages is that you will receive a reply from the emergency services.
However, in order to use the service, you will need to register your phone before hand. This can be done via the EmergencySMS website.