Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

Just in case you have an emergency in Austria, here are the numbers to call and some of the phrases you might need to use.

Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria
Who you need to call in an emergency in Austria. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Whether you live in Austria or are just visiting, knowing who to call in the case of an emergency is crucial to keeping you and those around you safe.

You can report anything on 112, the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

But knowing the direct number to call within Austria could get you a faster response in a situation where time is critical.

Here are the main phone numbers you’ll need to report an emergency in Austria.

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What is Austria’s equivalent of 999 or 911?

In some countries there is one general number for emergencies, like 999 in the UK or 911 in the USA. The operators will then transfer to the relevant department (fire, police, ambulance) depending on the emergency.

In Austria though, there is not a general phone number to call. Instead there are three different numbers for each key emergency service.

Then there are additional phone numbers for specific emergencies, such as a gas leak, poisoning or mountain rescue.

Before we get into the details of specific emergency services, here are some common questions the emergency operator could ask in Austria:

What is the emergency? – Was ist der Notfall?

What happened? – Was passiert ist?

Can you give me the address? – Können Sie mir die Adresse geben?

What is the number for the fire brigade in Austria?

To reach the fire service (Feuerwehr), dial 122

In Austria’s main cities of Vienna, Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck, the fire service is run by full time staff, but in more rural areas the Feuerwehr is made up of volunteer teams.

The fire service also fills the gap for other emergency services (if needed), for example for the police and ambulance services. Plus, they are responsible for fighting forest fires and assisting during other emergencies, like flooding.

Useful phrases

Fire! – Feuer!

Call the fire brigade – Rufen Sie die Feuerwehr / Die Feuerwehr rufen

There’s a fire – Es gibt ein Feuer

READ MORE: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Austria?

What is the number for the police in Austria?

To reach the police (Polizei), dial 133.

Examples of when you might need to call the police are after a burglary or mugging, witnessing an assault or if you feel in danger.

Useful phrases

Help! – Hilfe!

Call the police – Rufen Sie die Polizei / Die Polizei rufen

Can anyone here speak English? – Kann hier jemand Englisch sprechen?

There has been an accident – Es hat einen Unfall gegeben

Someone has stolen my bag/wallet/phone – Jemand hat meine Tasche/Wallet/Handy gestohlen

Please hurry – Bitte beeilen / Bitte schnell sein

What is the number for the ambulance service in Austria?

To call an ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen) in Austria, dial 144

The ambulance service in Austria is trained to provide emergency medical care at the scene before transporting people to hospital.

However, if you need an emergency doctor but not an ambulance, call 141.

Useful phrases

Call an ambulance – Einen Krankenwagen rufen

I need a doctor – Ich brauche einen Arzt

Take me to the emergency room – Bring mich in die Notaufnahme

Some people are badly injured – Einige Menschen sind Schwer verletzt

He/she hit his/her head – Er/sie hat sich den Kopf gestossen

He/she is unconscious – Er/sie ist bewusstlos

He/she isn’t breathing – Er/sie atmet nicht

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Who should I call if I need roadside assistance?

In Austria there are two main breakdown assistance services – ÖAMTC and ARBÖ. They are similar to the AA in the UK and the AAA in the USA.

Both organisations offer 24-hour emergency roadside assistance to anyone in Austria, but non-members have to pay a fee.

For ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service call 120.

For ARBÖ emergency breakdown service call 123.

There are also SOS phones located along Austrian motorways in the event of an emergency.

Useful phrases

My car won’t start – Mein Auto springt nicht an

I’ve run out of fuel – Ich habe kein Benzin mehr

I have a flat tyre – Ich habe eine Reifenpanne

Smoke is coming from the engine – Rauch kommt aus dem Motor

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Other numbers for emergency services in Austria

Here are the phone numbers for additional emergency services in Austria.

Gas emergency – 128

Mountain rescue – 140

Crisis hotline – 142

Emergency services for children and young people – 147

Poison centre – 01 406 43 43 

Animal welfare (Vienna) – 01 4000 8060

Women’s emergency hotline (Vienna) – 01 717 19

Emergency services for the deaf or hard of hearing – 0800/133 133 (SMS, FAX)

For more information about the emergency services in Austria, visit the federal government website or the City of Vienna website.

If in doubt…

If you’re not sure who to speak to, call 112. You’ll be connected to the Universal European Emergency Services, who can direct you to the correct line. 

The number is available free of charge everywhere in the EU from all phones, including mobiles, and you can call it even without credit or a valid SIM card. 

Assistance is available in multiple languages, including English.

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Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

With violent storms becoming increasingly common in Austria, here’s how to protect yourself (and your home) this summer.

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

Storms are a regular occurrence in Austria during the summer months, but the strength and frequency seems to be increasing.

Overnight on Tuesday, June 28th, both the Pöllinger and the Treffner rivers in Carinthia burst their banks causing widespread flooding, mudslides and damage across the region.

Reports on Wednesday morning said the villages of Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach (Villach-Land district) were still metres under water and several people had been rescued from the deluge.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

According to ORF, emergency services were still struggling to reach some areas and there were unconfirmed reports of missing people.

A Tweet from Unwetter-Freaks said: “Bad pictures from #Arriach in #Kärnten , which was hit by several storm cells last night. According to ORF, the place is currently cut off from the outside world and cannot be reached by the emergency services.”

Earlier this week, rural areas in Upper Austria were also hit by storms (overnight, June 27th) bringing torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls, which caused extensive damage to crops and grassland in the key agricultural state.

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The Klaus reservoir had to be drained of 200 cubic metres of water to avoid flooding and trees were brought down across the province by wind gusts – some up to 91 km/h.

The Kronen Zeitung reports the storm caused damage to around 16,000 hectares of agriculture land, with insurers estimating the cost to be up to €6.5 million.

One Tweet showed the size of the hail on Monday night and read: “In the night we had ‘light’ hail.”

Storms then hit the region again on Tuesday night leading to a lightning strike on a hay barn in the Mühlviertel and the flooding of an underground car park in Linz.

With the summer season far from over and the possibility of more wild weather in the coming months, here’s how to stay safe during storms in Austria.

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Check the weather report

It might sound obvious, but checking the weather forecast should be at the top of the list of summer storm preparations.

Unlike in the past, weather reports are now typically reliable, and apps like Bergfex and Accuweather are well-known for providing detailed forecasts and weather warnings.

However, long-range forecasts can change quickly, so if you’re planning a camping or hiking trip, be sure to check the weather between 24 and 48 hours before to avoid being caught out.

Additionally, the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) has regular updates about storms and weather forecasts for Austria and users can sign up for email and SMS notifications.

Stay indoors

According to the organisation, Die Helfer Wiens (The Helpers of Vienna) one of the biggest risks during a storm is being hit by a fallen tree or flying debris.

For this reason, they advise people (and pets) to stay indoors during a storm and close all windows and doors. 

If staying in a tent or campervan, it’s also a good idea to seek shelter in a building (if possible) until the storm has passed.

However, if you are outside during lightning, the Austrian Red Cross says the best approach is to crouch down into a ball to reduce the amount of contact you have with the floor.

READ MORE: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Stay away from the cellar

Cellars and underground car parks can quickly become flooded during heavy rain – as seen in recent storms in Upper Austria and Carinthia, and last year during violent storms across Austria.

Flash flooding can happen quickly (the clue is in the name), so stay away from cellars and underground spaces during a storm and call the emergency services if you suspect a flood in your home.

Remove plants and furniture from balconies

Having plants and flowers on a balcony is a lovely way to brighten up an outside space, but they risk being damaged during a storm.

To safeguard your pots and lovingly-planted flora, move them inside – especially during a thunderstorm with strong wind gusts and lightning.

The same applies to any outdoor furniture that could be damaged by wind or hail, like cushions, decorative objects and sun umbrellas.

Park cars under shelter

Hail is one of the leading causes of dents to bodywork on cars and damage to windscreens, both of which can be costly to repair.

If hail is forecast during a storm, park a car in a garage or under shelter, if possible. 

If strong wind is expected, then avoid parking a car under trees as debris, or even the tree itself, could end up landing on the vehicle.

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Don’t go into the forest

Whether walking or driving, the best advice is to stay from the forest or areas with lots of trees during a storm.

While sheltering under a tree can protect from rain or hail, lightning or strong wind can bring down trees. This makes the forest a dangerous place to be in a storm.

But if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a forest when a thunderstorm hits, stay away from low branches and tree trunks and crouch down low. Place any walking sticks or metal poles away from you and stay away from metal fences.

Avoid risky activities

Certain outdoor activities are especially hazardous if there’s a lightning storm. 

Any activity in an open area or that puts you into contact with water or metal is strongly advised against. So that means fishing, swimming, boating, cycling and golfing are out until the storm is over. 

Keep torches and candles ready

Power cuts are common during storms, so keep a stock of candles and torches ready in case you end up without electricity for several hours.

It’s also a good idea to have a portable USB charger to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery during an emergency.

Who to call in an emergency

These are the numbers to call if you need help from the Austrian emergency services during a storm.

122 – fire service (Feuerwehr).

133 – police (Polizei).

144 – ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen).

120 – ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service.

123 – ARBÖ emergency breakdown service.

140 – mountain rescue.

Finally, 112 is the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

Find out more with The Local’s guide on who to call and what to say in an emergency.