General Emergency number – 112
+ works in all alpine countries
+ works even if you have no credit on your phone
+ You can call without a SIM cart
+ You can make a call even if your operator doesn’t include the zone where you are.
– it’s not a direct number to the mountain rescue
– you can lose precious time explaining which service you need
PGHM Chamonix (Direct telephone number for the Chamonix rescue service) – +33 4 50 53 16 89
Chamonix Winter rescue on pistes – +33 4 50 54 04 73
PGHM Bourg St. Maurice (Tarantaise) – +33 4 79 07 01 10
PGHM Briancon (Ecrins) – +33 4 92 22 22 22
Valais – 144
All other cantons – 1414
With Rega‘s free Emergency app, you can raise the alarm by pressing the button. When you raise the alarm through the App, the caller’s in-app details and position are directly transmitted before a connection is set up with a REGA personnel speeding up the process. You can find the app on Google Play and Apple App Store.
General number: 118
Vallée d’Aosta rescue : 118 or +39 800800319
Calling for Rescue
You should call for rescue immediately after an accident has happened if there is any reason to believe help is needed. These are often very time-sensitive emergency responses, so you must react fast.
- Call the nearest rescue station or the general emergency number. Explain that it concerns a “mountain rescue.”
- Your precise location – Mountain-range, summit, altitude, aspect, route name, GPS coordinates?
- The number of people involved and if any known victims.
- The weather situation where you are
Other valuable information to pass on:
How is the weather where you are? (clear, cloudy, windy..)
Are there any obstacles? (cliffs, forests, cable wires, etc.)
What are the colors of the garments in your group?
Is there a risk other people you don’t know are buried in the avalanche?
Is everyone wearing a beacon?
Example: Calling for rescue in an avalanche situation.
- I am calling for a rescue
- Two people were buried in an avalanche 2mn ago.
- We are just below Col de Berard on the northern aspect at 2400m altitude.
- I am a client, we are six skiers w a guide, wearing red, blue and yellow jackets.
- The weather is good and not much wind.
Cell phones :
In the European Alps, we have reasonably good cell phone coverage, and you can generally use your mobile phone to call for rescue.
In certain valleys, the network is less good, and you might need to go away from the group to get coverage. If this is the case, you should always go as a group of at least 2 people and mark GPS coordinates for the rescue before leaving.
You should always bring a fully charged mobile phone and keep it in a dry spot to ensure its functionality.
If you bring just one phone between several people, tell them where you keep it and ensure they know your access code.
Keeping phones at least 30cm away from your avalanche beacon is considered good practice to avoid interference issues.
The rescue service response:
Based on your call, the rescue service will mount a specific response to the situation. In the case of a sprained ankle, the response might be limited to a simple “taxi” down the mountain by helicopter. At the same time, a complex avalanche burial will often lead to a big response involving several rescue teams, doctors, dogs, etc.
Do your best to keep your communication in short and precise sentences. The most important is to communicate that there was an accident, where you are, and the scale of the accident. Once this is established, the rescue service can decide on a response. If your phone suddenly runs out of battery, you have communicated the most important information.
As rescues can become complex and involve many hours of helicopter rotation, you really need to ensure that you have good search & rescue insurance. If you are with a guide, he/she will have insurance, but even this has limits to its coverage. For courses or guided climbs organized by Norreslet Mountaineering, you are obliged by our general conditions to be ensured. Check more about insurance here – Click here.
Prepare the rescue
- Protect the victim and the rest of the group as well as you can, and perform immediate first aid if needed.
- Avoid moving or pulling the victim if you suspect any spinal or neck-related injury.
- Keep the victim warm – space blanket down jackets.
- Prepare the helicopter’s approach. Don’t leave any objects that will fly away when the aircraft approaches.