The Balearic Islands are fast. The current record is 13:53 minutes. That’s the time an ambulance needs on average to arrive where it’s needed. This means that the Balearics are better than most as the official optimum 15 minutes. The ambulance of the IB-Salut only needed 10 minutes to help two friends, who were helpless because their friend had a breakdown.
The three friends had met for a glass of wine on a Sunday afternoon. One glass soon became two and the friends treated themselves to an early lunch. Peter felt well even though he seemed to be a bit tired and pale, but he had been working on an important project for days before and this had kept him awake at night. After paying the bill, Peter stood up rather quickly and fell down on the pavement. Without hesitating the friends looked up the emergency number for the ambulance and dialled 061. It is the emergencies number of the IB-Salut, which is the public health service of the Balearics since 2002. Formerly known as Insalud and under the direction of the central government, the health system is today directed by the autonomous governments.
The IB-Salut received more than a quarter of a million of calls in 2004. In more than 60,000 cases transport by ambulance was required and in more than 20,000 cases it was a question of life or death. The Balearics maintain of 11 U.I.C ambulances, which are specially equipped for emergencies and which are usually accompanied by a doctor and a nurse. Twenty-three more ambulances have basic equipment. Each of the four Balearic Islands has an emergency helicopter or plane. During the Easter period and the summer the 061-emergency service is additionally cooperating with the DGT (Dirección Provincial de Tráfico) and keeps another special helicopter on alert, which can be at any destination within eight minutes.
This does not mean, however, that you’d need to search for the right phone number, as on the Balearics like in most countries the 112 is the right number to call for assistance. 112 is the number of the control centre, which coordinates emergencies. If you have a private insurance, like Peter, there are even more possibilities in an emergency.
Peter is insured with the Mapfre Salud, which has its own number for emergencies which is: 300 122 122. Had his friends called this number, he would have been driven directly to a contracted hospital of the Mapfre. Each other private insurance company has its individual emergency number to call. Therefore, you should always have your insurance card at hand as you will find the phone number to call on those credit card-like passes.
Parents should always have the contact details of their paediatrician at hand, as most doctors offer a special number for emergencies, which is generally the pediatrician’s mobile number. To ensure that the child receives the quickest possible assistance he will usually recommend the nearest hospital and will join you there, if needs be. Should you have the suspicion of toxication, call the central office for cases of toxications in Madrid at 91 562 0420 which will give you the advice needed. Generally any doctor or medical institution is obliged to help in an emergency.
If a patient breaks down in front of a private hospital, first-aid needs to be rendered, regardless of the patient being insured there or elsewhere. If Peter had collapsed at the beach or a large event, the Red Cross would have been the point of contact. The Red Cross cooperates with the IBSalut and is mainly present at the beaches to treat emergencies.
Almost 18,000 people needed the help of the Red Cross in 2004. More than 400 emergency transport and seven missions at sea were registered in the same year. The red cross is on site at concerts, sport events and other bigger events and can be reached by telephone at 971 736 694 or the ambulance at 971 736 694.
Another possibility is to look for assistance at the closest health centre (centro salud), which are part of the network of the public health service and are obliged to provide help for everybody in the case of an emergency. However, equipment might be limited as these centres only provide the basic medical care for the local community and are not equipped for major interventions. Everybody who wants to use the services of the centres salud and is not an emergency needs the insurance card of the Seguridad Social (National Health Care). Medical care on highest levels For many tourists the first place of refuge is the hotel where they are staying. The receptionists of well-run hotels are usually prepared for emergencies and know where to call for assistance.
If you don’t want to rely on this, you can drive to the next hospital yourself, which can also be a private one if the circumstances are accordingly. There is a custom on this island in order to signal an emergency being transported in a private vehicle by waving a white cloth through the open window. Of course this is no excuse for disobeying the traffic regulations. If an emergency is admitted to a hospital privately, the quickest way is by the main entrance, as this is usually the best sign posted.
The receptionists will be able to direct you and help you quickly with the formalities. Most hospitals have separate entrances for emergencies, however these are often harder to find especially when agitated.
After-hour Pharmacy service
Pharmacies open at night can be found at www.cofib.es, choose „Farmacias de Guardia” and the name of your town or village, insert the current date. Many pharmacies are even mentioned on a map.