In a formal description we could say that “112 is a free emergency telephone number in Spain which offers a 24/7 emergency service to any person located within the country of Spain, regardless of their nationality and legal status”.
In my own words: “112 is the phone number you must use in case of any emergency in Spain”.
The type of emergency could be (but not limited to) any of the following:
- Car accidents
- Health assistance
- Physical aggressions
- Natural disasters
- Life risking situations or scenarios
When calling 112, the operator on the phone decides what professional services must get involved:
- Spanish National Police
- Local Police
- Guardia Civil
- Ambulance and paramedics
- Civil Protection
How does it work?
Very simple: dial 112. That’s it.
Don’t doubt yourself for a second: call 112 for whatever type of emergency.
The operators can speak English as well as Spanish, so if can’t speak Spanish but you have at least a basic level of the English language despite it not being your first language: call 112.
Even though the service is offered nationwide, the offices are managed locally by each Spanish region.
Let me give you an example.
I’m based in Torrevieja, Alicante. If I rang 112 it would go straight through to the Comunidad Valenciana regional office.
However, if I called 112 being in the Murcia area, the phone call would be received by the Región de Murcia office.
What matters here is that you receive assistance. Whether the office belongs to such and such region is irrelevant.
Just dial 112 if you need help and they’ll give you further instructions.
Emergency phone number in Spain and Europe
Although other EU countries seems to have their own national emergency number (999 in the United Kingdom, for instance), 112 can be used all over the European Union.
According to the European Commission Website, only “51% of EU citizens know that 112 is the number to be used across the EU”.
I don’t want you to be part of that 49% while you live or come to visit Spain.
112 is not a general information phone number.
Don’t call 112 to ask about Spanish residency.
Don’t call 112 to ask about driving licences.
Don’t call 112 either to know what the weather is going to be like or for general traffic enquiries.
Wrong or even malicious phone calls do nothing more than obstruct real emergencies.
Please, take this phone number very seriously.
I’ve rang 112 around 10 times in my whole life and I can tell you they’ve always answered quickly and have been very efficient, at least when I was present, which was not the case in the first two examples I’m about to give you next.
I recall that one day back in 2011, at the early days of Torrevieja Translation. I was driving on the Cartagena-Murcia motorway and had to dodge a piece of carpet rolled up across the road.
Sometime later there was somebody driving at night on the motorway with no lights.
And whilst living with my parents, one night I looked through the window and saw some smoke coming up from the rubbish bin (in a few minutes it was completely on fire but the firefighters extinguished it fast enough).
Whenever the situation poses a risk to any human being or even animals: