I had made it a practice to google and save numbers for emergency and police before I travelled to a new country. But I had gotten sloppy and then suddenly I needed them in the worst of accidents. So here’s my sad story of why you absolutely need to pull out your phone now and save the emergency numbers of your next destination.
**** Disclaimer: This post isn’t about how dangerous Bali or solo travel is. It is just an example that really should help make people more aware of their and other people’s safety and necessary precautions, such as travel insurance. If you are interested in extensive travel and health insurance, I recommend World Nomads. Here is my affiliate link. Also, this post doesn’t provide medical or legal advice. Furthermore, this post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ****
What Emergency Numbers You Need
Let’s hope you don’t need it but just in case of an emergency abroad, you need to save the following numbers:
- General Emergency Number
- Police Number
- Number of Ambulance
- Number of nearest hospital
Read this too: The entire list of the world’s emergency numbers
When you call emergency, you typically have to give your identity as well, which includes name and phone number for potential later contact. You might be a witness.
As you most likely not always have your ID documents on you in case you are asked for them by police on site or in the police station, I recommend safe digital uploads.
Get yourself a free Dropbox or Google Drive account and place your most important documents, such as ID, driver’s licence, passport, insurance, etc in there. This is also helpful if your passport gets lost or stolen.
What to Do When Calling Emergency
- Make sure you actually need to call emergency. If you are not entirely sure, do it. Better safe than sorry.
- Dial the correct number (check if you need international/regional code too)
- Try to remain calm and answer all questions as succinct but with as many key points as possible
- Key information include: your exact location (you can send someone to the exit or street to guide the ambulance), what exactly happened, current situation
- Follow any instructions
- Have someone do first aid, keep bystanders away.
Read this too: 24 Ways to Stay Safe as a Solo Female Traveller
Legal Implications of First Aid
Please note, that in some countries, such as Germany you are legally obliged to provide first aid in a way that is feasible and appropriate, such as calling the police or ambulence, securing the scene of the accident and providing first aid if you have received training.
A reader has pointed out to me, however, that there is the danger of a possible lawsuit. Still, some countries, such as the USA, have Good Samaritan laws that provide protection to people who give reasonable assistance.
I’ve been told, in others, you might receive a jail sentence at worst for providing unsolicited first aid or even “assault.” Or if you are providing help you aren’t qualified
Doing a little research definitely helps but, let’s face it, in a moment of urgency, there is no time to google and letting someone die (e.g. from choking, drowning, etc) certainly doesn’t seem like the way to go.
On another note, once you are stepping in to provide help, you are taking on legal responsibilities to look after the victim/crime scene until a similarly or better qualified person or the professionals take over.
Should You Get Travel Insurance?
Defnitely. It doesn’t matter whether you are the fittest, healthiest person in the world. Accidents happen, whether you are super cautious or not. You can’t control the weather, other people’s actions or simple mishaps.
I never travel without health insurance and in particularly if you spend quite a lot of mony on flights and othr bookings, travel insurance is key. Luggage does get lost at airports, too.
A tried and tested insurance provider for both health and travel insurance is World Nomads. Tons of travel bloggers use it. You can check rates here through my affiliate link.
Broken Bones and Broken Hearts – My Story
My friends and I were out at one of the most popular party spots in Canggu, Sandbar when we witnessed a body umbling and dropping over the cliff of the bar and into the puddle on the beach. The fall was 4-5 metres. He landed smack on his neck and back and for a minute we thought he was dead.
He lay unconscious in the glare of the neon lights and I remembered thinking that he really must not be moved. Injuries to the spine need to be stabilized professionally to avoid paralysation. But the security guards swooped in and dragged him out like a corpse, disposing of him somewhere nearby. The party commenced, nobody cared.
By then I was trying my best to call 112 as that was the main emergency number in Bali, I remembered. But the music from Sandbar and nearby locations was just so loud, I could hear nothing. I tried walking away as I wasn’t sure where he – by then half conscious – had been taken to and hoping first aid was done on him.
Read this too: Crucial Bali Safety Tips
No matter what I did, I ended up with an automatic message and as soon as I opted for English, the line went blank or I was hung up on. Google confirmed I was supposed to dial 112 but multiple attempts didn’t work. I implored standersby and security staff to call an ambulance for me.
But everyone was pretending as if they didn’t have a phone or didn’t know how to dial. (For real, they were just holding up their phone like it’s a mystery.) Nobody could tell me the number either. And I was met with confused stares as to why I cared anyway.
Did I know the guy? No? Then why bother? They were dead serious. I had a big argument with the security guard who was making clear I was very annoying for dragging him into it because he didn’t know the guy. Compassion for other human beings was at its very minimum that night.
I google again and in my stand of upset I had missed the most important site with crucial information: in Bali, you have to dial the regional code to get through to emergency. Plus, there was an extra line for ambulance, for search&rescue and nearby hotels.
All the while my friends Janet from Journalist on then Run and her freshly arrived friend from Ireland were trying their best to educate the throng of friends of the victim about stabilization.
They had been dragging him like a corpse across the parking lot, were spraying him with water and leaning on cars in an attempt to half carry him.
Read this too: More Bali Disaster Stories and How to Avoid Them
All of this must have made his injuries so much worse but they wouldn’t listen. Their English was rudimentary but not even the words “dead tomorrow” seemed to have any effect.
They kept apologizing for the inconvenience while trying to sneak him into a car. A guy who could barely walk wanted to drive.
We finally got them to lie him down so we could stabilize his neck and body. He did vomit and we luckily were fast enough to put him into lateral position so he wouldn’t suffocate. Here’s another thing you ABSOLUTELY need when you travel: first aid training.
Don’t just get it for your driver’s license. It can safe a life. You can’t count on people “knowing what they’re doing” because chances are, they really don’t. Or their panic stricken brain doesn’t work.
In that moment, the guy who had been dragging the unconscious man was running for his life towards us and his friend on the ground. Twenty men came charging at him and were beating him to a pulp. Kicking, beating, yelling. It was made. They nearly jumped and fell on their critically injured friend, they were so full of rage. Not helpful.
By then I called the police a second time. If I couldn’t get hold of an ambulance and if security wouldn’t stop someone from dying, I thought they would help. I implored them to send an ambulance, which they promised.
But they came after twenty minutes with a police car and the group of friends shoved both injured guys into a van and drove off in walking speed. The police did the same after waiting until the car was gone.
I have no way of knowing what happened to either guy. Whether the first would be paraplegic in a few hours or – even worse – dead from internal injuries. We really hope that they drove both to a hospital. However, judging by the group being so afraid to cover everything up, I highly doubt it.
Makes you wonder what would happen if I ever had a serious accident myself. Usually locals are immediately there to help when there’s a scooter incident, for instance. What went down that nobody would assist I still don’t know.
In an emergency situation it is key to help first and foremost. If you can, do the first aid and have other people call emergency.
Try to stay as calm as you can and take charge, directing as you go because a lot of people will either feel unsure of what to do or will just watch.
I always make sure that my phone battery doesn’t drop too low and if I go on longer day trips, I have a charging cable and **** This post isn’t sponsored but contains affiliate links. If you book anything from them, this doesn’t cost you anything but might give me a little commission to help keep this free blog full of more travel tips and me fuelled with chocolate to keep writing. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ****
>external battery with me. Doing these calls and trying to google the correct numbers drained my phone’s battery quickly.
And never forget to take out travel insurance before you leave on your trip. Costs can be extremely high if you have to pay out of pocket otherwise.
I really hope not, but have you ever encountered a serious accident (abroad) yourself?