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Old 31.03.2009, 17:06
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An emergency in CH - What would you do?

I was out enjoying the sunny day with a friend when we noticed an unconcious man lying facedown on the sidewalk of a deserted street in the old part of Vevey. Just as I was starting to think about what I should do, a woman came out of a store and told me that they had just phoned the ambulance. What was rather strange and unsettling is that no one wanted to go near the man. I'm annoyed with myself because I didn't react in the way that I would have in the States and deferred to the two Swiss people on the scene, who kept their distance and remarked that the man must still be alive because he was breathing. After what felt like an eternity, someone went over and turned the man, whose face was covered in blood, over on his side. Realizing that the ambulance was on its way and that someone was sitting with the man, my friend and I left.

Upset with myself and thinking about what I should have done has made me realize that the first step is knowing the emergency numbers in Switzerland. Hopefully you won't need them, but I'm posting them here:

Ambulance: 144
Police: 117
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Old 31.03.2009, 17:11
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

Dial 112 from any cell phone, it's the general GSM emergency number and it "should" work anywhere a cell phone works.

Other emergency numbers in Swissieland:

118 Fire department
1414 REGA (air rescue)
140 Auto club
145 Poison control / toxicological emergencies
147 Youth and Adolescent emergencies (running out of Red Bull or cigarettes while waiting for the night bus doesn't count)
143 The helping hand (probably not janitor services)
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Old 31.03.2009, 17:14
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

Yeah, it's so easy to drift on without thinking about emergencies till they happen.
Enough first aid to know what to do/not to do, would be ideal.
In a city you can hope someone more qualified will step in but in a secluded area it could mean life or death to someone.
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Old 31.03.2009, 17:16
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

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Dial 112 from any cell phone, it's the general GSM emergency number and it "should" work anywhere a cell phone works."
Any idea if the person who answers the phone would speak English?
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Old 31.03.2009, 17:20
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

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Any idea if the person who answers the phone would speak English?
In most remotely civilized countries it is redirected to whatever the local emergency dispatch center of choice is. In Germany (which I am a bit familiar with) it goes to the local P. D. , and I would expect even the average German keystone cop to speak at least some resemblance of English.

Not sure if "civilized" or "keystone cops" applies to Swissieland, but I would certainly hope so. Maybe our resident Swiss citizen, moderator and emergency services expert will chime in?



(hmm, would I label what some of my local co-workers speak as English or Swinglish?)
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Old 31.03.2009, 17:53
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

To people who want to learn how to react, and what to do, I can recommend the first aid courses given by the Swiss swimming rescue organisations.

You learn how to ascertain situations, apply ABC schemes (thus you would have carefully turned him over, checked consciousness, breathing, call 112, then put him in a stable side position after checking the bleeding), you also learn how to give CPR and use a defilibrator, AND you learn how to save people from the water.

I was in a group with 12 girls aged 20-22, and we were nicknamed the baywatch team . This was in Bern by the way.

website is http://www.slrg.ch/de.html
Note you can change the language of the site, and you can also look up the local clubs in Romandie.
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Old 31.03.2009, 18:35
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

If you've had a first aid course, and can still remember what you should do, then it would have been appropriate to go and help. Otherwise, try to talk to the guy, but don't touch or move him unless absolutely necessary - if you don't know what you're doing, you could make things worse.

I've been involved in a few emergencies in Switzerland, and I've always found the Swiss to be very helpful and competent. It seems that being able to help breaks through their normal reserve.
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Old 31.03.2009, 20:57
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

It also helps that a first aid course is mandatory here (just like in neighboring Germany) for driver's license applicants.

Maybe we should organize an English first aid course for EF members? Many moons ago I had an instructor license for that kind of stuff ...

San Arena in Zuri offers such a course in English (with a not-so-well-versed-in-English Scandinavian instructor), but they charge a pretty penny for it.
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Old 31.03.2009, 21:02
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

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Any idea if the person who answers the phone would speak English?
Well, I have had the misfortune of 4 ambulance trips with my now 4 year old son, and not once for any of my calls to the emergency line did the person who answered the phone speak English. however, my german is not good at the best of times and even worse when in a mild panic, but we managed to bumble through (although I did give up when he was trying to tell me once how to do mouth to mouth.....).

Bascially if you are able to give an address, they will come!
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Old 31.03.2009, 21:23
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

Good point, joanne.

Hence the rule for any emergency call is to ALWAYS start with the location of the emergency.

Didn't I post that 5 dubyah scheme somewhere?

(headscratch)
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Old 31.03.2009, 21:31
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

Having a son with type 1 diabetes, we tend to be on 'high alert' for people in distress..someone having a diabetic hypo can appear drunk, aggressive and disorientated....

A first aid course would be great - I am due for an 'upgrade' and it would be good to do one with someone who has local knowledge to share...
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Old 31.03.2009, 22:10
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

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.... not once for any of my calls to the emergency line did the person who answered the phone speak English.
This reminded me of a situation a had a year ago when I found a homeless man burglarizing my house. I spoke very little French at that time, and the Geneva police I had on the phone spoke even less English. The Burglar reached for the phone and offered to speak to them for me! It was his lucky day I suppose.

Looking back, it was really quite comical. But at the moment it was a bit upsetting.
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Old 01.04.2009, 10:39
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

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Maybe we should organize an English first aid course for EF members? Many moons ago I had an instructor license for that kind of stuff ...
I would sign up for an EF first aid course. I did one years ago, but it would definitely help to refresh my memory!

After thinking about what happened yesterday, I think that I didn't react as I normally would have because I kept waiting for the three Swiss people to take the lead in caring for the man. Also, I felt immobilized because I couldn't remember any of the necessary medical words in French.
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Old 01.04.2009, 11:02
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

I don't know if there'll always be an English speaking operator nearby when calling an emergency number. I assume it depends on the specific service and where they are decentrally organised, the region. There are some experiences for 144 in this thread. Poison control has an English brochure so I assume they offer English speaking assistance most of the time.

There are some considerations to combine the police, ambulance and fire emergency numbers sometime in the 2010s, probably under the GSM emergency number 112. Such an infrastructure would possibly cover foreign languages better.

All in all, English assistance is not a given. Also in other first world countries, it has recently been pointed out to me that the police's operators in Lithuania don't speak English either.
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Old 01.04.2009, 16:31
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

Nathu - do you know where GSM 112 currently rings in Switzerland? Cops, medics, or firefighters?
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Old 01.04.2009, 16:54
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

It seems that 112 is routed to the police. When calling the emergency numbers, the phone carrier transmits the radio cell location.

What I didn't know is that the ability to call 112 from a cell phone without SIM card was deactivated briefly after it was introduced first in 2000. I wonder if it works now? (No invitation to try it of course)

Some related reading material in German and English:

112 without SIM:
http://www.comcom.admin.ch/aktuell/0...de&msg-id=2285
http://www.comcom.admin.ch/aktuell/0...en&msg-id=2282
http://www.comcom.admin.ch/aktuell/0...de&msg-id=2281

Caller location:
http://www.comcom.admin.ch/aktuell/0...=en&msg-id=870
http://www.comcom.admin.ch/aktuell/0...en&msg-id=7411
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Old 01.04.2009, 20:48
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

Does anyone know about 'Anglo-Phone'?
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It is a 24-hour English-speaking information line. Dial 157-5014 from anywhere in Switzerland and someone will be able to provide advice on finding an English-speaking babysitter, as well as events, excursions and activities.
From Bradt Guide to Switzerland. I don't know if they can offer advice or support in the event of an emergency.
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Old 01.04.2009, 21:04
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

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This reminded me of a situation a had a year ago when I found a homeless man burglarizing my house. I spoke very little French at that time, and the Geneva police I had on the phone spoke even less English. The Burglar reached for the phone and offered to speak to them for me! It was his lucky day I suppose.

Looking back, it was really quite comical. But at the moment it was a bit upsetting.
that is so funny! I can imagine the guy helpfully giving information on what he was doing and where you were so the police could promptly respond!
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Old 01.04.2009, 21:40
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

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What was rather strange and unsettling is that no one wanted to go near the man...the two Swiss people on the scene, who kept their distance and remarked that the man must still be alive because he was breathing.
This is freakin' outragious!!!!!!!!! This makes my blood boil. I cannot believe people!!

First of all I think it should be mandatory for every single human being (especially if you have kids) to have full knowledge of first aid. Not just CPR, but the extra stuff about bleeding, fractures, burns etc. Once you have done the course you will feel guilty that you haven't done it years ago.

But even if you haven't, gosh you are a human being - HELP ANOTHER!!
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Old 01.04.2009, 21:54
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Re: An emergency in CH - What would you do?

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that is so funny! I can imagine the guy helpfully giving information on what he was doing and where you were so the police could promptly respond!
I saved him from my 2 Bull Mastiffs, so I guess he did owe me a favor. I did decline his offer though. I thought it would be good for the police to hear my side of the story, or no one's at all.

I was very perplexed as to what to do with him, so I wound up letting him go. As a matter of fact, I gave him a hat that he had taken a liking to.
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