When you're in a traffic accident, or in the middle of a medical crisis, it's often difficult to say things correctly in English, no less in another language. I remember one time when calling 911 for a small fire in our house, I stumbled over the address a few seconds. It can happen to all of us.... so when traveling in Italy or especially when planning an extended stay there, a little emergency planning is well worth the effort. First off, here is a list of emergency numbers. I suggest programming them into your mobile phone before leaving for Italy, with a description of each. Or simply create a list and print it on a business card to place in your wallet.
- 12 - Telephone Directory Assistance Number (You really need to practice pronunciation of names and places before using this. More on that below.)
- 112 - Carabinieri (Military police, more like our State troopers as opposed to local police)
- 113 - Emergency Police Help Number (local police, ambulance and fire--CALL THIS # FIRST!)
- 115 - Fire Department
- 116 - A.C.I. (Italian Automobile Club) road assistance (Check with the AAA for more info about this).
- 118 - Medical Emergencies
- 176 International Directory Assistance (the connection fee is 90¢ a call)
- 89 20 21 , 199-892021 , 199-303060 Italian State Railway information
You will find more Carabinieri offices located in villages across Italy than the Polizia. When driving in Italy, you'll see Carabinieri signs pointing the way to the nearest Caribinieri station and signs to the local police. They have different logos. The Polizia Locale sign at the right uses a British Bobby looking helmet logo. The Caribinieri looks like a fancy dress hat with a feather on top. The crossing guard looking logo is used generically to point toward local police stations, but is mainly used to call attention to a traffic police notice--warning of speed camera zones and such. Keep in mind though, there is a lot of crossover between the local police and the Caribinieri in Italy.
The Vigili del Fuoco, literally the Firewatchers, (official name Corpo nazionale dei vigili del fuoco or CNVVF), Italy's institutional agency for fire and rescue service. As a national service it is under the oversight of the Ministry of the Interior. Much of Italy (depending on which region you are in, and what deal they have with Rome) have nationally funded fire brigades. There are also volunteer fire fighters at the local level. In general, in case of fire, call 113 to report a fire and say:
"Vi è un incendio _say the address_"
("There is a fire at _address_", Click the link then click the speaker icon for pronunciation).
The method of delivery can vary considerably from one location to another. In some locations, responsibility for the provision of EMS has been undertaken by the local hospital, while in others, services may be provided by a range of volunteer organizations, such as the Italian Red Cross (Croce Rossa Italiana), ANPAS (National Association for Public Assistance), Confraternite di Misericordia, other associations commonly known as "Cross" (Croce), usually followed by a color (White Cross, Green Cross, Yellow Cross...), or by private companies.
"Ho bisogno di aiuto medico!"
("I need medical help!" Click the link, then click the speaker icon to hear the pronunciation).
"Sto male, aiuto!"
("I am hurt, help!" Clink the link then click the speaker to hear it spoken)
A come Ancona
B come Bologna (or Bari or Brescia)
C come Catania (or Como)
D come Domodossola
E come Empoli (or Enna)
F come Firenze
G come Genova
H come Hotel (acca)
I come Imola
J (gei or i lunga) come jolly (the joker in Italian card games) (or Jugoslavia)
K (kappa) come Kursaal
L come Livorno
M come Milano
N come Napoli
O come Otranto
P come Palermo (or Padova or Pisa)
Q come Quaderno
R come Roma
S come Savona (Sassari or Siena)
T come Torino (Taranto)
U come Udine
V come Venezia (Verona)
W (vi/vu doppio) come Washington (Wagner)
X (ics) come Xanto (xilofono)
Y come ipsilon (York or yacht)
Z come Zara (Zurigo or zeta)
Or, believe it or not, an easier way is to simply practice saying the Italian alphabet... the way the Italians do. Learn it. Sure it will take a little practice, but it's very helpful when in Italy. I had to spell my name several times when I was there and never resorted to the military style above. Really try to say each letter with an Italian accent. Here is an excellent video which will teach you not only about how to say the names of letters in Italian, but will teach you what sounds the letters make when used in words:
- Aiuto! (ah-yooh-toh) (Help!)
- Emergenza! (eh-mehr-jehn-tsah) (Emergency!)
- Chiamate la polizia! (chee-ah-mah-teh lah poh-lee-tsee-ah) (Call the police!)
- Chiamate un'ambulanza! (kee-ah-mah-teh ooh-nahm-booh-lahn-tsah) (Call an ambulance!)
- Ho bisogno di un medico. (oh bee-zoh-nyoh dee oohn meh-dee-koh) (I need a doctor.)
- Dov'è l'ospedale? (doh-veh lohs-peh-dah-leh) (Where is the hospital?)
- Mi sento molto male. (mee sehn-toh mohl-toh mah-leh) (I feel very sick.)
And for more, here is a link to a more comprehensive list of phrases to use in emergencies...
Rimanga sicuro... Stay Safe!
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