There are three main emergency services in Switzerland. In the event of an emergency, it is important to know who you can - and should - call.
Emergency numbers in Switzerland
There are three main emergency services in Switzerland:
- Police: 117
- Fire service: 118
- Medical service: 144
Police in Switzerland (Fedpol)
The police force in Switzerland is not run on a federal level. Instead, each of the 26 counties (cantons) has its own police service. Some cities also operate municipal police agencies but, in general, national-level law enforcement is coordinated by a board of cantonal police officers.
The 26 cantonal police forces, as well as the municipal police agencies, are not subordinate to federal authorities. Commanding officers report to the head of the cantonal or municipal department of police, who will be a member of a cantonal or municipal governing council.
Fire service in Switzerland (Feuerwehr)
Most fire departments in Switzerland are militia-based, although professional fire departments do exist. Anyone in urgent need can contact the emergency fire service by calling 118.
Medical service (Notfalldienst)
Switzerland’s emergency medical services can be reached by calling 144 or the European emergency number 112. Alternatively, you can visit the Accident and Emergency Department at your local hospital, or a specialist emergency clinic for minor issues. You can also call the above numbers for information regarding out-of-hours care.
The European emergency number
Anyone requiring urgent assistance from Switzerland’s emergency services can call the 112 European emergency number. You will be put through to an operator, who will then connect you to the appropriate service. The European emergency number can be contacted from any mobile phone or landline phone.
Other emergency services
Should you need specific help in an emergency, such as in the case of poisoning or in need of mountain rescue, there are dedicated numbers for other emergency services. Their numbers can be found here:
- Rega (Swiss Air-Rescue): 1414
- Poisoning emergencies: 145
- Emergency breakdown service: 140
Instructions for calling emergency numbers
- Wait to be connected and introduce yourself to the operator.
- Stay calm and describe the situation, giving as many details as possible.
- Tell the operator your location and explain how the emergency services can reach the site of the incident.
- Answer any questions the operator asks and follow their advice.
- Stay on the line until you are asked to hang up the phone.
- Ensure your phone line is kept free in case the emergency services need to contact you again.
- Only call back if you can share further information or the situation changes.
Swiss alarms and sirens
There is a nationwide alarm system in Switzerland (Polyalert). After the alarms have been sounded, relevant information is conveyed via the radio. In case of a power failure, authorities might disseminate information via megaphones, couriers or leaflets.
All sirens in Switzerland are annually tested on the first Wednesday of February. A water alert signal is also tested in areas close to dams.
Road accidents in Switzerland
Anyone involved in a road traffic incident must stop and immediately clear the accident site. Not doing this, or leaving the scene of the accident, is considered a breach of your legal obligation. Anyone failing to stop after being involved in an incident where people are injured is considered to have committed an offence and could face prosecution.