What to do in an emergency


The emergency medical services are extremely good and in virtually every town and city, you can dial 112 for the emergency services (Servicios de Urgencias). It is 061 for an ambulance, 080 for the fire service and 091 for the police. You should try and give the age of the patient and type of emergency so that the ambulance can have a doctor on board if necessary. Some useful words are heart attack (ataque cardiaco), ambulance (ambulancia) and doctor (médico).


If you are involved in a life-threatening situation, such as a serious car accident, you (or someone with you) should call for an ambulance. Call 112 or 061. There are also 24-hour private medical centres throughout the Costa del Sol, many of which have bilingual staff.

Private ambulance services provide a 24-hour service in most towns and are listed by town under Ambulances in the Yellow Pages. Most clinics and private hospitals also operate their own ambulance services. Ambulances are equipped with emergency equipment such as oxygen and life-support systems and drivers and staff are trained to provide first-aid.

On the Costa del Sol, there is also an emergency helicopter service (helicopteros sanitarios). Social security patients don't pay for ambulance services and private patients are generally reimbursed by their private health insurance (or travel insurance).

By law, taxis are obliged to transport medical emergencies to hospital when requested to do so.


If you are physically able, you can go to a hospital emergency or casualty department (urgencia) or a 24-hour public health clinic. The telephone numbers of first aid stations are listed at the front of telephone directories and many are equipped with ambulances. Check in advance which local hospitals are equipped to deal with emergencies and the quickest route from your base. This information may be of vital importance in the event of an emergency, when a delay may mean the difference between life and death. In an emergency, a hospital must treat you, regardless of your ability to pay. Most pharmacies post a list of local clinics and hospitals where emergency medical treatment is available.


If you're unable to visit your doctor's surgery, a doctor will visit you at home at any time of day or night. If you need a doctor or medicine in a non-urgent situation and are unable to contact a doctor, ring the telephone information service 1003 or your local police station, either of whom will give you the telephone number of a doctor on call or the address of the pharmacy that is open.


Information on drug dependence
900 161 515
Information about AIDS
900 111 000
Malaga Health Centre
952 604 266
Fuengirola Health Centre
952 468 945
Marbella Health Centre
952 826 596
Sea Rescue
900 202 202


If you are arrested you will be allotted the free services of a duty solicitor (abogado de oficio), who may speak only Spanish. You are also entitled to make a phone call. If you use this to contact your embassy or consulate, it will probably be able to do no more than refer you to a lawyer who speaks your language. However, if you end up in court, the authorities are obliged to provide a translator.


The country's liberal drug laws were tightened in 1992. The only legal drug is cannabis, as long as it is only for personal use and in very small amounts. Although the public consumption of cannabis is illegal, it is quite common to see it being smoked in bars and even on the street. However it is obviously unwise to indulge openly, and could lead to a fine or, in the worst scenario, arrest. Travellers entering the country from Morocco should be prepared for thorough drug searches.