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The Emergency Medical ID Card
Solutions to make communicating during an emergency easier in Portugal
Have you given any thought about what would happen if you had a medical emergency or an accident while traveling or living in Portugal - especially if you can’t speak the language? For example, what would happen if you had a serious accident in a vehicle, or if there was a major catastrophe? Fortunately, there are some simple and free solutions to make communicating in an emergency in Portugal easier.
In a previous article I wrote about the STEP program, which is a free service from the U.S. State Department for United States citizens who are traveling or living abroad. You fill out a form online that provides your Embassy or Consulate in Portugal with how and where to get in touch with you if there’s an emergency.
The Emergency Medical ID card is different. It is a card you carry with you in the event of an emergency. Both are useful to have when traveling or living in Portugal.
In November 2018, the Associação Safe Communities Portugal (Safe Communities Portugal - SCP) in collaboration with Portuguese emergency response services, developed an emergency medical ID card geared towards tourists and foreign residents. It doesn’t replace any type of official document, but it could help to identify you – including your country of origin - and inform medical personnel of any medications, illnesses, or allergies you may have. This is often critical information to have immediately accessible in an emergency situation, and especially useful if you’re unconscious or can’t communicate in Portuguese.
Safe Communities Portugal is Portugal’s only non-profit association that provides a centralized way to access information and assistance with crime prevention, and public security and safety information. Their resources are free to people residing in or visiting Portugal.
The organization works closely with a number of authorities including the Ministry of Internal Administration, the Judicial Police, SEF, the National Republican Guard (GNR), Turismo de Portugal, Portugal municipalities and many Embassies. These organizations all recognize the card as containing emergency information.
No data stored
It’s important to note that the information you input on your card is not stored in any database. This is simply a card that you fill out and keep with you in your wallet or purse when traveling or living in Portugal.
How to download the card
The card can be downloaded by visiting the Safe Communities Portugal website here.
Click on the green Complete and download card here. The PDF will download to your computer. If you’re unfamiliar with where the downloaded file goes, you may have settings on your computer that allow the download to go directly to your desktop, or you may have a special downloads folder setting to store your downloads. Be sure to look for the document with the title, Emergency-Card_fill.pdf.
The left side of the page is in Portuguese and the right side of the page is in English.
The screenshot above is only a portion of the page. Scroll down the page to read the entire document and to access the card.
This is a fillable PDF. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it means that you can use your computer to type in your information and you don’t have to hand write it in.
The above image is an example of the fields on the card filled out. If you have a lot of medications, allergies or diseases, these fields may not be enough, and they don’t expand to accommodate more information. Suggestion: on the reverse inside of the card, you can type on a separate piece of paper an expanded list of diseases, allergies, and medications if they all don’t fit on the front of the card and then print and paste it onto the back. Under the appropriate fields on the front of the card, type in “see back of the card.”
When you have finished typing in your information, you can print it out on a home computer printer (I would suggest printing it in color). You can then cut it down to the size and fold as indicated in the instructions. If you don’t have any expanded health information that you have typed in on the reverse inside of the card, you can have it laminated to keep it protected.
Keep the PDF stored on your computer so you can update your address, medical and emergency information as needed.
More useful emergency information I have found
The Safe Communities Portugal website has a lot of information that can be useful in an emergency. The website is also available in several different languages. Some of the information I have found useful to keep handy includes:
Emergency Contacts – This page contains a comprehensive list of Portuguese agencies, their purpose and how to contact them.
Police in Portugal – There are five main police organizations in Portugal. This page describes the functions of each one as well as contact information.
Animal Protection – As an animal lover, I have little tolerance with any type of animal abuse. This page provides information on animal protection including lost, abused, or stolen animals.
Tourist Safety – This page provides information on staying safe while visiting Portugal.
Telephone Translation – Although not part of Safe Communities Portugal, another resource that I have bookmarked is The High Commission for Migration (ACM). This is the Portuguese agency responsible for offering services to meet the needs of migrant communities. There are several topics relating to immigration including citizenship, family reunification, and health services.
Among the services provided is Telephone Translation Services (STT).
The purpose of the service is to assist immigrants with communicating in their relationship with services in Portugal.
There is a database of 107 translators and interpreters with 69 languages and dialects who are fluent in Portuguese and at least one other language. The service schedules a telephone conference between the service or institution, the translator, and the immigrant.
When traveling or living abroad, it’s always a good idea to know the resources available to you in the country you plan to visit should you have an emergency or need to contact an authority or other service. If you find this information useful, bookmark the agency websites or keep this article handy for future reference.
Until next time…