main_icn_My_Vodafone main_icn_Search main_icn_Chevron_right main_icn_Chevron_down main_icn_Close main_icn_Menu social-facebook social-google-plus social-linkedin social-twitter social-youtube main_icn_Community_or_Foundation main_icn_Location main_icn_Network_signal
Menu Toggle

Welcome to Vodafone Community

Pay monthly

Calling 911 in the US from a UK mobile

SOLVED
View solved solution
2: Seeker

Hello

 

I was recently in the US with my UK pay-monthly mobile from Vodafone and was in a pretty frightening situation. After having tried and failed to get help through every other means I could think of, I decided to resort to calling 911 (as had been suggested to me by one of the people I had spoken to who couldn't help).

 

When I called 911, the call did not connect. All I got was a beep sound. I tried calling 911 many times. I also tried 112 and 999. Nothing connected. Consequently I was left in the distressing situation, which luckily sorted itself out after an hour.

 

For obvious reasons I had never practised calling 911 in the US from my UK mobile before this, but now I am concerned that it just doesn't work.


Can anyone let me know whether one should be able to call the emergency number from a UK mobile when in the States, and why didn't it work for me?

Many thanks for your help

A.Hinge

View more options
1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions
Moderator

@ahinge

 

I can imagine it must have been worrying for you.

 

Even if the network you're on is down when making an emergency call, it'll connect to the first one available.

 

So unless there was a network outage across the whole country you should have been able to make the emergency call.

 

As @kids mentioned were you able to use other services on your phone?

View more options
13 REPLIES
Community Champion (Retired)

Did you have a problem using your phone for other calls in the states?

 

I once had to call a police emergency number in Thailand (1155) and it connected OK so I can't think why your call failed.

 

 

View more options
Moderator

@ahinge

 

I can imagine it must have been worrying for you.

 

Even if the network you're on is down when making an emergency call, it'll connect to the first one available.

 

So unless there was a network outage across the whole country you should have been able to make the emergency call.

 

As @kids mentioned were you able to use other services on your phone?

View more options
Community Champion (Retired)

@kids wrote:

Did you have a problem using your phone for other calls in the states?

 


More precisely, did you have a problem using your phone in that particular area? I ask because a tri-band phone may not work at all in some cities nowadays - on a recent trip to the States, I had a quad-band phone, which could find networks in all the cities that we visited, but my husband was using an older tri-band phone which in a couple of areas failed to find any network - not just failing to find a network that would accept him for a non-emergency connection, he couldn't find a network at all. I presume that in some areas they are no longer using one of the 850/1900 GSM bands.

View more options
2: Seeker

Thank you for all your replies so quickly!

I was able to use my phone for all the other calls I made that night, from that same location (I was stuck in a motel room without a landline phone, with some guy outside trying his darndest to get in for an hour, and no way of contacting the front desk - that number went to voicemail, which worked!).

 

The other numbers all worked perfectly and I had no other issues using my phone throughout my entire stay in the US. I should have mentioned that in my original posting.

View more options
Community Champion (Retired)

That is deeply worrying, as it really should have worked for you. Do you happen to know which network you were connected to in that area?

 

We were in a similar situation in a remote motel in the US before mobiles were common. A roaring drunk outside in the corridor, trying to get in, but at least there were two of us inside the room, to shift furniture that I'd have been unable to move on my own. In the morning the owners were very reproachful that we hadn't used the phone in reception to let them know what was happening!

View more options
2: Seeker

Hi Annie_N

 

I also find it very worrying - then and still now.

 

 

I'd never had cause to call 911 before but had assumed it would work. It's not something you test out, is it? Unfortunately the motel room was without any hotel phone system. They had a number to call, pinned on the office door - but there was no way I was going out to try and find it!

 

It looks like I was hooked into the AT&T network that night (from having checked my bill).

View more options
2: Seeker

So, can anyone shed any light on why I was not able to call 911 while I was in the US?

Does one just have to hope that it works when an emergency happens?

View more options
Community Champion (Retired)

Hi @ahinge

 

I have raised a query about this, but I haven't heard anything back yet. I'll ask again.

 

Further thought, @ahinge - I'm a PAYG customer, so you may not get exactly the same messages when travelling, but I suddenly remembered that, when I was in north-east Greece earlier in the year, I was regularly getting "Welcome to Greece" and "Welcome to Bulgaria" texts, and I was pretty sure that I was informed of the Emergency Services number for the country each time. Of course, I cleared them off the phone ages ago, but I managed to track down the exact wording of one of them, which I had quoted to another Forum member in a different context - sure enough, "Welcome to Greece................. For emergency svcs: 112............."

 

Did you get any similar messages during your recent trip? if so, do you remember, or can you still check, what, if anything, you were told about contacting emergency services? I was certainly getting "Welcome to the US" and "Welcome to Mexico" texts regularly while in southern Texas a couple of years back, but all I can remember is hoping that the Border Patrol wouldn't regard that as suspicious - I have no recollection of what else the messages might have said.

 

Annie.

View more options
2: Seeker

Hi @annie_n

 

Thank you for replying.

 

I did get those messages, but they obviously weren't logged as sms because they aren't in my sms list any more, and I didn't go through and delete them.

 

View more options
2: Seeker

I suddenly realised that the "Welcome to US" message actually comes from Vodafone and not from the provider one hooks into (i.e., AT&T). 
So yes, I've found the "Welcome to the US" message and the emergency number they state is "112" which is surprising really, considering it's 911 throughout the US.

 

I did try calling 112 that night too.

I tried 911, 112 and 999 (just in case!). None of them worked.

 

Thank you for your help

A.Hinge

View more options
Moderator (Retired)

@ahinge

 

112 is an emergency telephone number within numerous European Countries. Therefore, it will only working in specific states if it has been set as a primary and secondary emergency number.

 

911 is not a short-dial we can advise on, as it wouldn't be used in the UK. It may be that AT&T had an issue dialling the number at the time, as if you're connected to the AT&T Network, you wouldn't be treated any differently to another AT&T subscriber wanting to call 911 from their mobile.

View more options
2: Seeker

Thanks for your reply @EricChester

 

So, as I understand it, this means that one can't rely on being able to call 911 from a UK (or any) mobile in the US, even if you have nework coverage?

 

 

Interestingly I've found this on Wikipedia, but I haven't been able to verify how true it is:

  •  United States (some carriers, including AT&T, map the number 112 to the emergency number 911)

I also looked up my call history from that night (see image), which shows the numbers 911, 112 and 999 as "unknown", whereas I would have expected them to show up as "emergency". Perhaps this might shed some light on the matter? 

 

And one final thing, I also found this article from last year which seems to imply that 911 failing is not totally unknown...

http://www.theverge.com/2014/10/3/6414949/911-call-failures-fcc

 

Thanks for your help!

View more options
Administrator

@ahinge

 

It's not something we can advise on as we don't have control or access to the networks used in any other countries.

 

Providing your phone is able to connect to a local network and normal usage can be achieved, there should be no reason that emergency calls can be made.

 

Emergency calls automatically connect to the strongest signal despite what network you're using and the provider would need to investigate why this didn't happen.

View more options