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Dealing with emergency situations in Mexico

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 Mexico 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 Mexico?

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 Mexico, do not hesitate to share your story.

Thank you in advance!

Priscilla

I have had a number of the issues you mentioned, and my first suggestion is get to know your neighbors, and be as fluent in Spanish as possible.

A family member living with me did die last year, and I turned to my neighbors for how to proceed. We called the police who came out to make sure everything that should be done was done legally. Three funeral services arrived quickly and my neighbor helped me deal with them. I learned that when someone dies the body must be dealt with within 24 hours. My neighbors took me to the funeral home to deal with the arrangements. All was managed very quickly and the cost was quite reasonable. I contacted the U.S. consulate, they emailed the needed paperwork, which I filled out and sent by messenger. They require a Fedex number to send the copies of the paperwork back.   Through all of this my neighbors stood by me and offered support.

I would say your neighbor's and police reports are critical to a smoother out come. When I was robbed I called the police who came out, told me what the incidence of robberies were in the area ( very low, but new construction so...). they did a thorough investigation of the neighborhood, especially the new construction behind me. A few days later I had to go to the police station ( FGECAM ) to get a copy of the report  and to make a statement, for insurance purposes.

There were numerous agencies involved in the insurance for my U.S. car that got flooded, but I will leave that for another time.

This may not be an emergency emergency but the story may have information that's useful.

The small challenges living in Mexico keep you young.  The flexibility you need to deal with them keeps the mind sharp?  Well, maybe sharper than otherwise.  I have a nasty habit of leaving things behind.

I left my ATM card in an, you guessed it, ATM machine.  My account wasn't hacked but the card didn't turn up at the bank the next day. A rush replacement arrived in Xalapa at UPS this morning and I hoped it might get to me by this afternoon instead of the scheduled Monday.  When I checked the website later, the scheduled date was changed to Wednesday.  I have plenty of cash and a few dollars back up to exchange if I need more so no problem.

I was going to go downtown to buy bus tickets for 5/13 and 5/25 but decided to postpone that in case the ATM card got delivered while I was out and no one was around to sign.  With the changed delivery date for the ATM card, I changed my plan.  I like to buy bus tickets early because I get a better seat selection.
It occurred to me to try the company's Android app because I have been able to use my US credit card online at a couple of other Mexican sites recently.

Lo and behold!  It worked for the outbound ticket.  Just for giggles I restarted the phone before trying the return trip.  It worked too.  This company doesn't even make you print out your ticket, just flash the copy on your phone at the driver and you get to board.

Keep backup cash handy.  Maybe enough to get you to the US.
Stay up to date on where you can use your US cards online.

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your family member.

However, I agree with you, being as fluent as possible in Spanish and knowing your neighbors is crucial.  Not only can your neighbors help you with critical things, as yours did for you, but also assist with less important items (where is the best store for this or that, where is a good vacation spot, or even being invited to the next party).

David

I live in a remote area and a few years ago we needed an ambulance to take my husband to the hospital in Acapulco ...at least an hour away.  The local doctor was here in the house and he did not know how to call for an ambulance........most people do not.  I looked today and the information said that as of January 1st 2016 dial...........911.

Emergencies: It depends on what type and where you are. About medical emergencies,

What I say below comes from our experience living permanently in a relatively small city (San Miguel).

First, get to know the medical facilities in your area. The main private hospital in San Miguel was awful but about two years ago it was taken over by a chain that has invested quite a bit of money renovating and making it a place you wouldn't afraid to go to in an emergency. They've also built a public hospital which is good for emergencies and there is a third hospital going up.

Second, try to establish a relationship with a doctor before an actual emergency occurs. That can be difficult because the vetting system here is not very transparent: You can't just Google Dr. X and get his credentials and any malpractice suits that may have been filed against him or her. So you go mostly on trial and error and personal recommendations. "He/she speaks perfect English" doesn't translate into expertise, and we have run into several charlatans, quacks and con artists who don't know what they are doing except take your money. We now have a very good Mexican doctor we can call and he can either treat us or refer us to a specialist.

Third, in case of an emergency you're probably better off being driven to the hospital by a friend rather than waiting, and waiting, for a poorly equipped (a van with a stretcher) Mexican Red Cross ambulance to show up, usually with poorly trained personnel. I've personally seen these guys in action several times and they are scarily incompetent. On the other hand, at the big city of Queretaro I've seen big mobile ER units driving around, so it depends where you are. If you have an accident you may have no choice on how you get to the hospital.

Fourth, if you live in Mexico permanently, getting some medical evacuation insurance may be an option. Once you're stabilized at a hospital here, they can fly you to a hospital of your choice in the States. If there is a major event—stroke, heart attack or such—you're better off moving to the States, where at least Medicare will cover you if you're old enough.

al

As a follow up to my debit card story, that same day, I went out at around 4PM, did some shopping and had a late lunch.  Shortly after I got back, the landlady phoned me saying she had signed for an envelope on her way out earlier and could she bring it over. ... If I had told her about the debit card problem, she might have called earlier.  Not that it made a big difference for me, it did lower the stress a bit.

First, if you have a trustworthy landlord or on good terms with neighbors, let them know about special situations and they'll keep an eye out for you.

Emergency numbers are not standard in all of Mexico.  911 does not work in Coatepec, Ver.

Here's a link to the city's emergency number page.
http://seguridadpublicacoatepec.mex.tl/ … encia.html

I googled numeros de emergencia coatepec ver.

Try it for your city and double check with neighbors or city hall.

"You can't just Google Dr. X and get his credentials and any malpractice suits that may have been filed against him or her. "

You can check the Yellow Pages/Paginas Amarillas. There is a section devoted to doctors. Many of the doctors will list their education and internship backgrounds. If they interned in the US or Canada, they speak English. There is no malpractice in Mexico, but there is criminal prosecution.

joaquinx :

"You can't just Google Dr. X and get his credentials and any malpractice suits that may have been filed against him or her. "

You can check the Yellow Pages/Paginas Amarillas. There is a section devoted to doctors. Many of the doctors will list their education and internship backgrounds. If they interned in the US or Canada, they speak English. There is no malpractice in Mexico, but there is criminal prosecution.

I just had to try.
Sometimes you can Google a doctor.
http://coatepec-puebla.guialis.com.mx/d … al/1255904

It may not be any help.  I have done well asking neighbors.  The time I picked one on my own, not so good.

I have a advantage, given that my education is in medicine, so it's hard to directly relate to the issue personally, but I would say when you find that name in the yellow pages , see what hospital they affiliate with, then look up the hospital, Doctors here as well as in the U.S . are accepted on staff by some hospital.

If for some reason they are not associated with a hospital with a good reputation I would move on.

travellight :

I have a advantage, given that my education is in medicine, so it's hard to directly relate to the issue personally, but I would say when you find that name in the yellow pages , see what hospital they affiliate with, then look up the hospital, Doctors here as well as in the U.S . are accepted on staff by some hospital.

If for some reason they are not associated with a hospital with a good reputation I would move on.

Here in Mexico they charge Dr.s a large fee to become part of a private hospital and have a consultorio in their medical building. You chose a private Dr, and they chose the hospital and pay, the hospital doesn´t chose the Dr.s. These Dr.s pay "rent" for everything they need for their patient [operating room, private room etc.] plus all services they need [medicines, nursing, operating room staff, tests, lab work, medical machines, oxygene, food and supplies etc.] . No patient no fee. They really don´t have Dr.s "on staff" for walk ins except in emergencies and they need to be called to come in. One they might recommend and you agree to. There might be 10 private Dr.s for 10 patients in emergency, all called in and usually the patient does the calling. There is no Dr. there waiting around. There might be an intern waiting around.

The patient choses the Dr. and he hospitalizes you where he can/wants to. A different system. If you go to a private hospital you need to be sent there by your Dr.. You cannot go there and check yourself in. Some hospitals rent out rooms and operating rooms etc. to any private Dr. who doesn´t have a consultorio in the medical building [not affiliated]. Same for support Dr.s such as their backup Dr. and their anesthesiologist etc.. which your Dr. choose to complete the operation.

So checking which hospital has which Dr.s is still a crap shoot and only what they are willing to pay to be there is the criteria you will be looking at in this case. For example: Hospital Angeles has some of the highest fees and many Dr.s there have excellent track records and you pay high prices to go there.

Do you have links to your information to share ?

I know for my experience that "These Dr.s pay "rent" for everything they need for their patient [operating room, private room etc.] plus all services they need [medicines, nursing, operating room staff, tests, lab work, medical machines, oxygene, food and supplies etc.] "   this is not correct in areas I have been. The patient pays these fees, often up front, not the doctor.

I will ask the three doctors in my neighborhood when I next see them what their experience has been.

travellight :

Do you have links to your information to share ?

I know for my experience that "These Dr.s pay "rent" for everything they need for their patient [operating room, private room etc.] plus all services they need [medicines, nursing, operating room staff, tests, lab work, medical machines, oxygene, food and supplies etc.] "   this is not correct in areas I have been. The patient pays these fees, often up front, not the doctor.

I will ask the three doctors in my neighborhood when I next see them what their experience has been.

Of course the patients end up paying for everything. I was simplifying it as to what these private hospitals charge the Dr.s for what they require. Up front is a large deposit and the bill keeps getting added up and more deposits are required.

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