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Posted by BajaInsider on January 31, 2017
  • Calling 911 in Mexico for Health Emergencies
    Calling 911 in Mexico for Health Emergencies

The first weeks of January 2017 saw all of Mexico switch to the 911 system for all emergencies. These services include, police, fire, ambulance and naval services, given the proper information 911 services will dispatch the most appropriate emergency service to your location. In this article, we will cover the important points of calling 911 for a medical emergency. 

I was recently invited to visit the new C4 faculties in La Paz and meet with the jefes of the facility. It is a secure location,  near the police and jail facilities on Calle Colosio and our arrival was monitored on closed circuit video. I was greeted by a friendly staff and introduced to the director Carlos Miguel Enriquez Rincon and sub-director Jose Antonio Verduzco, who were delighted to talk about the change and the plans for the near future. This facility serves the greater La Paz area. 

Equipped with the latest tech gear, our hosts told us the transition from 066 to 911 was relatively smooth, as the technology has been in use and expanding development in the US since 1994. The fundamental part of the system was ready for service in December and came online in the first days of January, several days ahead of many of the other states in Mexico, including Baja California. But the expansion of the emergency services isn't complete, additional features will come online through the summer of 2017. The old number, 066, will stay in operation until early summer for those that haven't "gotten the memo" on the change. 


The Department "C4" handles the coordination of all emergency services and can direct the correct services to an emergency, including police, fire, ambulance, port captain and Mexican Navy. Each operator has a flow chart to make sure the right services are dispatched to your emergency. It is very important for North American visitors to know how to respond to these questions to promptly receive the most appropriate emergency services. 

Since emergency services can be limited in many locations in Baja, dispatchers need a little more information to send the right response. Currently, there are no 911 services in Mexico with 24/7 English assistance. By early summer '17, Cabo San Lucas and the Acapulco 911 services will have full-time English assistance. As of the time of the posting of this article La Paz has one part-time auxiliary dispatcher who can assist callers in English. Plans are already in the works to teach fundamental English to most of the dispatchers in the next several months. So in the meantime, you need to learn to express your emergency in an equally fundamental version of Spanish. 

The director assured us that emergency service begin to roll as soon as the dispatcher understands the type of emergency you are enduring. The additional questions are transmitted to the responding service while in route to your location. 

In the coming weeks, the system will receive an additional feature allowing dispatch to the correct location, even if you don't know where you are. The system will be able to read the GPS location in all cell phones and read from a database for land lines, to know the exact location of the caller just 8 seconds into the call. This will also help in discouraging fake calls, which have surged slightly since the conversion to the new number. (It doesn't matter if you have turned off the "Location" feature in your smartphone, it is always transmitted along with the call, regardless. )

An additional feature planned for early summer is a database of citizens, there location, medical conditions, contacts, attending doctor(s) and medical allergies or special needs. Submitting this information will be voluntary and how much information you provide will be up to reach respondent. When an emergency call is initiated the dispatcher will be able to access this information so that arriving services can make the best life-saving decisions. The director made it clear the information is not shared with other agencies. Although this may make some people uncomfortable, it will be particularly useful to persons living alone and those with life threatening special needs in the event of an emergency.  

The most important information you can provide the 911 dispatcher when you call is your location. If you live in Mexico you should learn to express your location in the Mexican style. Here in Baja street numbers aren't always evident so addresses are expressed as your street, between the two intersecting streets, such as "Maple Street, between Church Street and Main Street" or in Espanol "Calle Hidalgo entre Revolucion y Colegio Militar"  The word for streets is "calle" (ki-yeah), a highway is a "Carretera" (car a tair a) and a multi-lane is an "Autopista". 

Floors of a building are expressed as "nivel" (level) or pisa (floor) and the number. And of course, it always helps to know your numbers in Espanol. 

Being able to communicate nearby landmarks or businesses can also be an advantage in getting help to you quickly.

Should you have an emergency on Mexico's highways it is a little more difficult than just expressing a mileage marker, as one would in the USA. Markers indicate the mileage to the end of the section of Federal Highway you are on. Federal highways end where town and city responsibilities end.  Thus, on Hwy 1 there are many "mile marker 187's" between Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas. To correctly express your location on a Mexican Highway you should state for example "Kilometer 187, norte de Loreto" – which is your educated guess as to the next town on the highway. Some of the new toll highways in Baja do have call boxes, which identify where you are automatically. Unfortunately, the number of these on the peninsula remains very small. 

After you have communicated your location the dispatcher will ask some basic questions about the injured person. This proved key in our recent experience, so the help that comes to your aid has the right equipment on board to assist you in your unique emergency. 

Remain calm on the line and, despite the language problems that may arise in the emotional situation of a medical emergency, remember you are likely to have a terrible English accent to your Espanol.

Below I have charted some of the appropriate responses to questions the emergency dispatcher will need to know. In the coming days, we will post more information on responses to fire, accident and criminal activity report helping our readers communicate clearly in the event of an emergency. 



Sex of Patient 
Sexo del Paciente
 Age Type of Emergency
Tipo de emergencia
Location of Injury
Localización de la Lesión
 Severity / Severidad
Male - Masculino
Female - Femenino

 Learn your age in Spanish
 or if victim is unknown:

Infant - Infantil (in Fan tel)
or Nino (neen-yo nee-ya)
Young - Joven (ho-Van)
Middle Aged - Tercero edad
Old - Viejo (Vee ay ho)


The patient is:
El/Ella paciente/a está...

Conscious - Consciente
(con cent tay)
Unconcious - Inconsciente
(in con cent tay)

Breathing / respirando
(res per ando)
Not Breathing / no está respirando
(no s-tah res per ando)

Chest Pains: Dolor en el pecho
(do-lore N L pay-cho)

Injury to the / Lesión en

Is bleeding from / Está sangrando de:

   head / la cabeza (ca Bez a)
   eye / ojo (O-ho)
   chest / el pecho (Pay-cho)
   abdomen / el abdomen
   arm / el braso (brass -o)
   leg / la pierna (pe-air-na)
   the back / la espalda (S pald a)
   the foot / del pie (pe-ay)

Multiple injuries / Lesiones múltiples

Minor - Menor (men or)

Urgent - Urgente (er-gent-tay)

Critical - Critico (crit ik o)

Needs transport to the hospital
Necesita transporte al hospital





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