How to Access EMS (Emergency Medical Services) in South Africa

In a medical emergency, every second counts. Knowing how to quickly access emergency medical services (EMS) in South Africa can literally be the difference between life and death. 

In this post, we’ll guide you through the various ways to access emergency care in South Africa, providing you with the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions in a crisis. 

South Africa’s Primary Emergency Number = 112

South Africa’s national toll-free emergency number, to your local emergency medical dispatch centre, is 112 from a cell phone, or 107 from a landline. A trained operator will answer your call and assess the situation. They’ll then dispatch either an ambulance, the fire brigade, or the police. They’ll also guide you on how to proceed until help arrives.

If you are an EMERGIVAC member, simply activate the panic button on your app, or call our Control Room on 010 271 4786. We’ll coordinate with the nearest emergency services on your behalf, make sure help is on the way, and guide you on what to do next. 

Recognising a Medical Emergency and When to Call for Help

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. If you’re in doubt, call 112 anyway – a trained professional will assess the situation and guide you to the right response. Here are some situations where you should definitely call for EMS:

#1 – Medical Emergencies:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Severe bleeding
  • Loss of consciousness or unresponsiveness
  • Signs of a stroke – facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty
  • Severe headache
  • Seizures
  • Allergic reactions – difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat
  • Overdose or poisoning

#2 – Accidents:

  • Car crashes, motorcycle accidents, or pedestrian injuries
  • Falls from heights
  • Severe burns 
  • Drowning or near-drowning
  • Electrocution
  • Head injuries

#3 – Other Emergencies:

These include fires, natural disasters like floods or earthquakes, or any situation where someone’s life appears to be in danger.

Remember: Time is of the essence in emergencies. Don’t hesitate to call 112 if you suspect someone needs urgent medical attention. Your quick action could save a life! Be ready to provide the following information:

  • The Nature of the Emergency: Describe what’s happening, for instance chest pain, shortness of breath, car accident, fire, etc.
  • The Location of the Emergency: Provide the exact address, including any landmarks or intersections that can help responders find you quickly.
  • The Number of People Involved: Let the operator know how many people need help.
  • Your Name and Contact Information: This will help the dispatcher stay in touch with you if needed. You can choose to not provide this information, but it can be helpful to do so. 

Important Numbers for Specialised Emergency Assistance:

While 112 is your go-to number for most emergencies, here are some additional emergency specialised numbers you should always keep handy:

Poison Emergencies:

If someone has swallowed a potentially poisonous substance, time is of the essence! Here are important poison control centres in SA: 

  • Tygerberg Poison Information Centre (Western Cape): 021 931 6129
  • Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital Poison Information Centre (Western Cape): 021 689 5227. 
  • 24/7 Poison Information Helpline if you or someone else has been bitten or stung by a venomous creature: 0861 555 777
  • KwaZulu-Natal Poison Information Centre (St Augustine’s, Durban): 031-2685559 or 0800-333444
  • Frere Hospital (Eastern Cape): 0431-491077 (o/h)
  • Livingstone Hospital (Port Elizabeth): 041-4052455
  • Milpark Hospital (Johannesburg): 011 480 5910 or 011480 5912
  • Bloemfontein Poison Information Centre (Free State): 082 491 0160

If you can, provide information about what poison was swallowed, the amount, and the time it was ingested.

Mental Health and Child Welfare Helplines:

If you or someone you know are struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, or any mental health crisis, don’t hesitate to reach out to:

  • Lifeline: 0861 322 322
  • Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567
  • South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) Mental Health Line: (011) 234 4837

EMERGIVAC – A Lifeline at Your Fingertips

Whilst knowing these emergency numbers is crucial, EMERGIVAC offers a whole different level of protection. If you’re an EMERGIVAC client, help is truly just the touch of a button away! 

Here’s your EMERGIVAC advantage:

  • Guaranteed Private Hospital Admission: In an emergency, you’ll get admitted to a top private hospital immediately.
  • 24/7 Emergency Medical Evacuation: Whether by road or air, EMERGIVAC will immediately transport you to the nearest appropriate medical facility.
  • Emergi-Guard: This unique feature provides 24-hour armed response, acting as your personal security detail when you need it most.
  • Additional Support: Roadside assistance, medical advice, mental health support, household assist and many more benefits.

And all available from just R294 per month

Don’t Wait for a Crisis. Embrace Peace of Mind Today

Your and your family’s safety is beyond price. Go to our sign-up page and get the reassurance of knowing that our expert help is just a tap away, 24/7. Choose EMERGIVAC and be prepared for whatever life throws your way!

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How do I contact emergency medical services in South Africa?

To contact emergency medical services in South Africa, dial 112 from a cell phone or 107 from a landline. A trained operator will assess your situation and dispatch the necessary emergency services.

2. When should I call for emergency medical services?

Call for emergency medical services if you or someone else experiences:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe bleeding
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Signs of a stroke
  • Severe headache or seizures
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Overdose or poisoning

3. What should I do if I’m an EMERGIVAC member during a medical emergency?

If you’re an EMERGIVAC member, activate the panic button on your app or call the Control Room at 010 271 4786. EMERGIVAC will coordinate with emergency services, ensure help is on the way, and guide you on what to do next.

4. What information should I provide when calling emergency services?

When calling emergency services, be ready to provide:

  • The nature of the emergency (e.g., chest pain, accident)
  • The exact location, including landmarks
  • The number of people involved
  • Your name and contact information (optional but helpful)

5. Are there specialized emergency numbers for poison control in South Africa?

Yes, here are some specialized emergency numbers for poison control:

  • Tygerberg Poison Information Centre: 021 931 6129
  • Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital: 021 689 5227
  • 24/7 Poison Information Helpline: 0861 555 777
  • KwaZulu-Natal Poison Information Centre: 031-2685559 or 0800-333444
  • Additional centers are listed in the main post.

6. What support does EMERGIVAC provide in emergencies?


  • Guaranteed private hospital admission
  • 24/7 emergency medical evacuation by road or air
  • Emergi-Guard for 24-hour armed response
  • Additional support including roadside assistance, medical advice, mental health support, and household assistance


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