How to Call an Ambulance in Beijing
There are a lot of scary things about living in China. The air is less than ideal. The traffic can be daunting. The food doesn’t seem as clean as it could be. But, at Beijing United Family Hospital, we like to think that we’re taking care of all of your medical concerns – and one of the biggest concerns we hear is about calling emergency medical services in case of an accident.
In the event that you do need emergency care and require an ambulance, here is what you should do:
Step 1: Call 120 or 999
To get an ambulance in Beijing, there are two numbers to call: 120 and 999. 120, a service run by the Beijing Emergency Medical Center, was initially set up as a collaboration between the Chinese and Italian governments in 1983. 999 is an International Red Cross service that was established in 2001. Both services are accredited by the Beijing authorities, and they often work together to exchange information and training. They also both offer English-language services, although, in some cases, they may need to call you back as quickly as they can so that you can speak to an English-speaking agent.
The quickest and most efficient way to get an ambulance is by calling one of these services first. By placing the call yourself, will be able to tell them where to send the ambulance, and you will be able to accurately describe your condition or the condition of the person you are calling on behalf of. When the ambulance arrives, you can ask to be driven to BJU’s emergency room.
Before you call, try to figure out your exact address as this will speed up the ambulance dispatch process. The ambulance staff will require you to pay for the ambulance in cash when you arrive at the hospital, so it’s good practice to carry some cash on you at all times. Around RMB 500 should be enough unless you are very far from the hospital. There is a fixed fee for the first 3 km, and a per-kilometer rate after that. BJU can help cover these fees when you arrive at our ER if you have no cash on you.
Step 2: Find a Chinese-speaking person who can help
If you don’t speak Chinese and have trouble connecting to an English-speaking agent after calling both emergency numbers, your next-best bet is to enlist the help of a Chinese-speaking friend or passerby who can come to you and assist you with communicating with the ambulance services.
Step 3: Call the BJU emergency hotline
If you try all of the above and are still unable to call an ambulance due to language barriers, your third step should be to call our emergency hotline at 5927 7120. This 24-hour hotline is manned by our ER receptionists, who are trained in coordinating emergencies.
Our receptionists can help to call 120 or 999 on your behalf and explain in Chinese where you are and what the situation is. This will not be as accurate as having someone who is with you place the call but, if you are in a pinch, we can help facilitate.
Once you are in the ambulance and on your way to our ER, you should call our emergency hotline to let us know you’re coming and what we should expect. This way, we can start getting you the care you need as soon as you arrive at our ER.
How else should you use the BJU emergency hotline?
The emergency hotline is available 24 hours a day, and should be used:
- If someone is sick or injured and you want to determine if the situation is an emergency and whether an ambulance is required;
- To facilitate calling an ambulance in an emergency situation if you have already tried calling 120 or 999 and encounter communication issues;
- To alert the ER staff that you are on your way in an ambulance so they can be ready when you arrive.
What should the emergency hotline not be used for?
- Phone consultations – If you need medical advice that isn’t urgent, you can call our service center at 4008-919191, which is available 24 hours a day;
- Making appointments – If you need to see a doctor for a non-emergency medical issue, you can call our service center 24 hours a day at 4008-919191 to make an appointment.