Dealing with emergencies as a new expat arrival in Beijing

Dealing with emergencies as a new expat arrival in Beijing

Dealing with emergencies as a new expat arrival in Beijing

If you’re newly arrived in China and haven’t yet got to grips with Mandarin Chinese, dealing with an emergency can be your worst nightmare.

Even in your own country, responding to an emergency situation can be intimidating, but for new arrivals in China it can be an expat’s worst nightmare. Some while ago, English-speaking expats in Beijing were promised all emergency services were to become bilingual, but the service to date is inconsistent, to put it mildly. However, for new arrivals and those to whom languages apart from their own are incomprehensible, certain bilingual service can now be accessed for medical and other emergency situations.

The Beijing Red Cross’s 999 English language service is a more than welcome option during a medical emergency and can contact the ambulance service or advise on bilingual doctors. If a hospital is the only option, the Beijing United Family Hospital’s 5927 7120 is a 24/7 emergency hotline number connecting to English-speaking medical staff as well as ambulance or emergency services.

If you need to report a crime, find yourself in trouble with the police or have been arrested, your embassy should be able to help. For Brits, 8529 6600 is the number to call, and US citizens should call 8531-4000. Other useful numbers which may or may not have official English language services include Beijing Health Hotline on 12320, the traffic accident line at 122, ambulance services on 120 and the fire brigade on 119.

If you’re in Beijing for the long term, working out an emergency plan is the best idea, including a reliable contact number, the storing of all relevant documentation in one place, understanding your rights as well as the common risks of living in China and the protections to which you’re entitled. For the majority of expats, living and working in China is the experience of a lifetime, with staying safe and well-informed all part of the game.

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