For most business travelers, international assignments are an opportunity to immerse oneself in a new culture, explore unseen parts of the world, and grow both personally and professionally. With the prospect of such an exciting venture, it is possible to overlook a crucial aspect of any kind of international travel: do you know what to do in case of an emergency abroad? We all hope that international trips will go smoothly; however, prior planning and a bit of forethought can be absolutely invaluable in the event of an emergency.
One of the simplest steps you can take before departure is collecting the contact information for emergency services in your destination country. This list should include telephone numbers for local fire, ambulance, and police services. Additionally, you should also check to see if your destination has a national general emergency number. For example, the telephone number 112 is used throughout the European Union and many other regions to contact dispatchers that will direct the appropriate services to your location based on your needs. Once you’ve gathered these numbers, keep them posted somewhere visible.
Knowing who to call in the event of an emergency is an essential first step for safety preparedness, but it is also vital to know where to go to and how to seek emergency medical attention if needed. Many of us take for granted the peace of mind afforded by immediate access to ambulance services, but in some areas such services may be unreliable or even nonexistent. And once you do arrive at a medical facility, will you have to pay for treatment? In some countries, universal healthcare is provided free of charge to both expatriates and locals alike, while doctors in other regions may expect immediate payment.
Quality of medical care is another factor that must be taken into consideration. Depending on your destination, there may be a substantial difference between quality (and cost) of care offered by public and private facilities. Still other countries may lack adequate facilities entirely, potentially requiring you to seek treatment from neighboring areas. Knowing this ahead of time, you may choose to take out an insurance policy that covers medical evacuation in order to defray the cost of travel and treatment.
Learning who to call, where to go, and how to proceed in the event of an emergency abroad are all essential steps to take before embarking on your journey. This process can involve sifting through a deluge of information, but Living Abroad is here to help! For a comprehensive guide to the above topics and more, consult the International Relocation Center’s Health and Safety section, as well as the Country Resources section for a listing of local emergency contact information. We take the guesswork out of planning by offering curated, up-to-date content all in one place to help you stay informed and safe abroad.
Supporting your mobile workforce can be easy by subscribing to Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center and/or the Culture Coach Online. The International Relocation Center has 197 destinations to choose from and the Culture Coach Online, an online cultural learning platform, is available for 150 destinations. Both services easily link to your company intranet or relocation portal for access at any time.
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Written by James Cafferty – International Content Manager, Living Abroad