What’s the number for 911?
Knowing emergency numbers before you go abroad is important for your safety
by Katherine LaGrave
Rebecca Jackson woke up sick—dizzy, unable to move and pale. But what would have been a standard trip to the emergency room in the U.S. was complicated by a minor detail: Jackson was roughly 4,600 miles away from her Minnesota home, studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Both Jackson and her roommate weren’t certain whom to call, but ended up calling a hotline that assisted them in English. This was the smart choice, says Julie Maddox, director of study abroad programs at Valparaiso University.
“Sometimes, students will call their parents back home, and it’s not helpful because the parents don’t necessarily know what to do, and it causes panic,” Maddox says.
“The first thing to do is seek a local authority’s help. Then, contact the on-site study abroad administrator and third, your family.”When studying or traveling abroad, it’s important to be aware of emergency contact information and strategies. While many programs provide students with this information upon their arrival, it’s in your best interest to be prepared before you leave.
999: The oldest emergency call number in the world, 999 began in London in 1937. Today, areas using 999 include:
112: This is to Europe what 911 is to the U.S. It’s the number for all emergency services—ambulances, firefighters and police. Like in the States, calls to this emergency number are always free and can be made from a pay phone, landline or mobile phone. Dial this number when you are in the following areas:
Knowing this number already helps you fare better than most European Union citizens. When asked, only 26 percent of European Union citizens knew which telephone number enabled them to call emergency services anywhere.
Operator: Be aware that if dialing 999 or 112, an operator will answer and ask you questions in order to best assist you. Tracing technology is not consistent throughout different countries, so it is important to be aware of your location. If operators don’t hear a response from you, they are legally permitted to hang up.
Try: Visiting http://www.studentsabroad.com/emergencycard.asp to fill out an emergency card that can be slipped in your wallet. This card has space for emergency contact info and the 911 equivalent in your respective country.