This could save your life while living in Spain

living in Spain emergency services

You don’t feel immortal anymore.

Neither do I.

Years go by. Life passes swiftly.

And it seems even faster in Spain, doesn’t it?

We all know at this point that health problems have nothing to do with the country flag you wave, the language you speak, how much money you have in the bank, or even how many university degrees you have (or don’t have).

You wouldn’t believe how many dramatic changes I’ve seen since 2010: healthy people that have quickly deteriorated.

Another life falling into the oblivion.

And on many of these occasions, you only have a limited time to react when your body pitches the “warning signs”.

A few minutes.

Or not even that long.

Do you know what you have to do in the case of an emergency in Spain?

Stay around, I’ll teach you how to proceed.


Hopes won’t save your life while living in Spain

Let me tell you the way I see it.

You’ve been living in Spain for a while and you love this country.

One day you are watching TV. Your favourite show plays lauds, laughs and applauds, the remote control is on the arm of the sofa.

It’s sunny outside.

Suddenly, you feel this funny pain in your chest. You think it’s nothing, just muscles maybe… you hope so anyway.

But it escalates. In a matter of seconds it becomes an uncomfortable ache. Then pressure, like an elephant standing on your chest.

You are suffocating. It feels as if somebody is choking you.

But of course that’s not possible: you’re alone.

No arms around your neck.

No elephants on your chest.

You start desperately fighting against an invisible force that is taking your breath away; violent movements to try to release yourself from nothing.

The remote control hits the floor, opens up and, for a second, in the middle of the fight, you see the two AAA batteries rolling away.

You can hear the heart monitor in your mind: bip, bip, bip. And it’s about to extinguish, to go flat line.

At this point, whether it is a heart attack or not, is irrelevant: you only have a few seconds to determine what to do.

Sorry, but your good intentions won’t save your life in the case of an emergency in Spain.

Nor will thinking of your sons and daughters, grandchildren, your prior years spent in your country of origin, your childhood and those lovely summer holidays that you enjoyed with your parents.

Hoping for the best is useless in this scenario.

And even more useless are all of the following:

You must do something right now.

If you faint, it’s all over.

heart attack spain

(Don’t become petrified: react now)



It’s an emergency, a dangerous unexpected occurrence.

Call 112: the Spanish emergency phone.

Do it. Dial the number right now. It’s a 24/7 service and they speak English.

Even if you speak another language: call right now anyway. The person at the other end of the phone will know how to handle everything.

Do you think you can manage the situation that you are experiencing?

In that case, go to the emergency services at the hospital. This may be faster than having an ambulance sent to your home. But do so only if you think you can make it.

If you don’t think you can reach the hospital, your nearest medical centre offering emergency services might be an alternative (most medical centres cover emergencies during the daytime but at night only a few have an ongoing emergency service).

Very important:

  • You don’t need to have any appointment made by your GP to attend the emergency services.
  • Don’t worry about if you have a health card or not.
  • Forget about the passport.
  • It doesn’t matter if you are legally or illegally living in Spain.
  • This is for tourists as well.

Call 112, go to the hospital or to your medical centre.

Right now.



Over the years I have realised that many of my clients did not know that 112 was the emergency phone number in Spain.

Moreover, the real reason for writing this article was a client who, in late 2014, had a thrombosis and nearly died.

One day he woke up with a suspicious looking lump of notable size on his left thigh. Instead of going to the emergency services straight away, he thought he had to make an appointment first to get some sort of authorisation from the GP.

The next available appointment was two days later. The GP sent my client directly to the emergency services as soon as he saw the lump.

Do you see what could have happened?

I used the heart attack story to present the picture of an emergency.

However, emergencies are emergencies… worldwide.

Don’t wait, don’t think: react.


Credit image: Ben B.


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  1. Jess says

    HI David.

    One of your best articles so far, as interesting for young as old-


    • David Ruiz says

      Thanks a lot Jess 😉

      Best wishes,


  2. Sandra Groves says

    Great Article. Thanks for all the tips they are very useful to know about living in Spain.

    • David Ruiz says

      Thank you so much Sandra! I’m very grateful for the feedback :-) It is most appreciated.

      All the best,


  3. peter cowd says

    When I needed this service they couldn’t understand despite me allegedly talking to someone who supposed to understand English also they were more interested in SIP number rather than get an ambulance to my address which also they could not understand consequently my partner died so I do not think a lot of the service I’m sorry

    • David Ruiz says

      I’m very sorry to read that, Peter.

      All the best,