Dealing with emergency situations in Dominican Republic

Hello everybody,

Dealing with unexpected situations abroad can be a very difficult matter. In order to better help expats and soon-to-be expats in Dominican Republic face such tricky situations, we invite you to share your advice and experience.

What are the key emergency numbers you should know by heart?

In the event of a legal problem, an accident, a natural disaster, an injury or the death of a close family member, what are the first things to do in Dominican Republic?

What are the things to plan ahead in order to better cope with such unexpected situations (registration at the Embassy, transport, medical, comprehensive insurance for instance)?

If you have gone through such experiences in Dominican Republic, do not hesitate to share your story.

Thank you in advance!


Knock on wood, I haven't had a need for this yet but fear the day that I do. I always wondered how many people die in ambulances here in the DR. The drivers here just don't give the ambulance a break or even the smallest effort to get out of the way. Plus the roads are not constructed to allow for a shoulder to allow an ambulance to pass. And as we all know if there is a shoulder two more lanes of cars fill it up.

I am looking forward to the responses to this topic. Short of living next to a hospital, it is a roll of the dice and what time of day you need to get to the hospital. God Bless us All.

Wow good topic.  Things here are very different.

Emergency numbers will vary by area, know the numbers.  911 does exist in some areas!

Ambulance - first of all in an emergency if it is possible to get to a hospital  by taxi, other  driver or drive yourself -  don't wait for an ambulance. They may never show up.

Ron is right, no one pulls over for an ambulance, fire truck or any emergency services!   

I once called an ambulance for a very  ill friend, what arrived was a pick up truck with three young men who had no idea what they were doing!  But they got us to the hospital.

Do not EVER stop at the scene of an accident. As an expat it is NOT safe for you to do so! 

In case of natural disaster:  make sure you have been registered at your Embassy. They will have ways to assist you.

In the case of the death of another expat - there are different rules here.  Contact a lawyer and the police immediately.  In fact make sure you have a working relationship with a lawyer here.  The remains of an expat are subject to autopsy here and the bodies are sent to Santo Domingo before release to the family.

Legal -   its important to remember that unless you are from France, the legal system here is different.  The law here is similar to french law. You are guilty until you prove your innocence, not the other way around.   In case of serious issue you may be placed in preventative custody.  Make sure you or someone you trust know who to call if something happens!

In the case of a serious car accident or where there is serious injury to anyone -  latino tempers can flare up and often do.  If there is any question of you being blamed or in the middle of something  go immediately to a hospital or clinic emergency room OR a police station and ask for safety!   Often  expats get blamed,  do not take any chance with your safety.  Make sure you have full insurance if possible and include "casa de conductor" its coverage for a hotel like  location where the insurance company will protect you in case of a situation like this. It is not available everywhere.

Planner has given some great advice.  I have our lawyer's cell, home, office all on speed dial.

Ambulance?  What ambulance....

If you are involved in an auto accident and you can drive away do so.  We would go home and call our lawyer immediately.
Bob K

Yes good idea -  have the lawyer and your doctor number as a favorite on your cell phone and make sure someone else knows who they are!

Yeah indeed very true you knows us so well.. We dont allow ambulance to pass by cause we are that dumb -_-

Please  dont  use words like that,  uneducated - yes.  Dumb - No. 

I actually followed an ambulance down the main street last night when I was on my way home.  It went 40 KM / hour the whole way, with lights flashing.  They pulled into Burger King -  really guys!    Even the drivers  aren't educated!

No surprise there. I have often commented to passengers in my car that the National Police ALWAYS have their emergency lights On and flashing. How is anyone supposed to know when it actually is an emergency. The people become numb to the fact that flashing lights actually mean something. Couple that with the Hot Dogs that have installed flashing lights in their private vehicles and you have a very broken system.

Good points Ron.  No one here pays any attention to lights or sirens!!!!  Well actually many will trail the cops or ambulance so they get thru  faster........

This is a very good thread! My husband and I just had a "family meeting" on this last week. We talked about natural disasters here in the DR, as opposed to what we were used to in our area in US. We talked about the wisdom of having a "go bag" ready in case of disaster. Included in the bag would be ...extra medicine for a week, important papers, passport..ect. Also, dried food and water (ramen noodles, tuna, dried fruit, nuts..). Then we decided to have a small backpacking water filter. Flashlights, batteries, change of clothes, shoes. Only what we could fit in a go bag.
Also, if a disaster hit us, we would want to have emergency food, and water, here at the house. We are about to enter into hurricane season, which can produce high winds and flooding in different areas. We may be over preparing, but we are from tornado alley, so it's ingrained in us to be prepared for emergencys.

Also, we discussed the importance of knowing what our end of life plans are. We both want to be cremated, so we are looking into how to make those plans here in the DR. As far as we have learned, there is only one place in the capital that does cremations. We are still gathering info about this.

About ambulance care... A friend of ours who lives here, from Denmark, has a special insurance that will use a helicopter to fly him to the capital in case of emergency. We are also wanting to look into this.

Thank you all for your helpful information. We can add this to our preparedness.

Yes the Medivac plan is available -  I will get pricing so we know what it is.   

It is always good to be prepared for any emergency.  Also if you live here permanently  get a will drawn up!

All good advice and information.

We have included in our international insurance a med evac clause that will ship us back to the US or anywhere else deemed necessary for treatment.  With out med evac insurance it will cost a fortune to do so.  We had a friend with no insurance that needed to be med evacuated to Canada and the cost to him was $55,000 USD.

Bob K

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