When an emergency happens it is important to summon help quickly. Emergencies can range from dealing with a serious accident; a heart attack; a fire or being a victim of crime. Portugal is very well equipped to deal with a whole range of emergencies and in many cases has some of best trained and equipped response services in Europe.
Since 1981 Portugal has had an Integrated Medical Emergency System (SIEM), which is a set of entities that cooperate with one goal: providing assistance to victims of an accident or sudden illness. These entities are the PSP, GNR, INEM, the fire department, the Portuguese Red Cross, Hospitals and Health Centres. INEM is the agency of the Ministry of Health responsible for coordinating the operation in mainland Portugal.
The system starts when someone calls 112 – The European Emergency Number. The service call connects to the national emergency centre operated by the PSP. Where the reason for the call has to do with health, it is transferred to the Center’s Guidance Emergency Patients (CODU) unit under INEM. Whenever CODU initiates an emergency response it is handled by the unit closest to the place of occurrence, regardless of the entity to which it belongs. More information can be found at the INEM website.
When dealing with an emergency it is important to remain calm and follow the emergency centre operator’s advice. It is also essential that these numbers are only used in a genuine emergency, as non-emergency calls can result in delayed response to those requiring urgent assistance. English is understood but it is essential to speak clearly giving your name, location and nature of the emergency.
In addition to ensuring quick access to emergency contact details, Safe Communities Portugal has researched and provided on this page a comprehensive list of the various help lines and hotlines in the country. These range from who to contact in the case of domestic violence, poisoning cases and child neglect. Please note English may not be spoken in all of these services.