Who You Gonna Call? (In Case of Emergency)

Originally appeared in Chiang Mai City Life magazine


Part I

I wake up to lots of forwarded emails in my inbox.  I almost never forward them on, but the other day I got one that I thought might be appropriate for others to read.  So I forwarded this email on to all the “mature” (read “older”) people on my email list.


A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke… totally.
Four Signs Of A Stroke:  Remember the 1st Three Letters…. S.T.R.

1. S* Ask the individual to SMILE.
2. T * Ask the person to TALK and say a simple coherent sentence
3. R* Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
4. Ask the person to stick out his tongue.

If he or she has trouble with any one of these tasks, get them to a hospital immediately.

I got a few “thank you” emails in return but one reply prompted the topic for this latest discussion.  It asked, “So what do I do in case of emergency in Thailand and what do I do if I can’t speak Thai?”  It’s an important question, “Who you gonna call?”

Just the other day I learned one answer.  Our neighbors had their house broken into and lots of jewelry was stolen.  We called 191, the police emergency number.  No answer.  After a half hour of trying we got through to a police operator.  She said we needed to call our local police station.  After calling the number she gave us we were told that someone would be right over.  Close to an hour later a police car showed up.  Maybe 191 wasn’t the best answer to a “Who you gonna call” medical emergency.

Part II

In case of emergency here in Thailand you might try calling 191, the emergency number.  You may or may not get an answer and if you do you’d better speak pretty good Thai.  As a “plan B” you may want to develop your own “Who you gonna call network”.  Make sure anyone you live with knows what to do in case of emergency.  Knowledge of CPR wouldn’t hurt nor would basic first aid.  Make friends with your neighbors, especially ones with reliable cars.  For those who live alone, have the telephone numbers of friends you can count on who have transportation that can get you to an emergency room.  There is a saying here that works whether you are in a traffic accident, lost in the forest, or having a medical emergency.  “You’re on your own.”  Having a “Who you gonna call network” is one way to protect yourself when that inevitable day happens.  Let’s hope that day is far in the future and you are prepared.

Chiang Mai Emergency Numbers

You will most likely need to speak Thai.  Of course if you are having a stroke and can’t speak then it probably won’t matter what language you speak.

Emergency 191

Accident 1193

Ambulance 1669

Tourist police 1155 (English speakers said to be available, but not when I called.)