The last time I had to call the emergency services was probably in 1979 so it's not something I do lightly or often.
Today I scived off work to go and get a cup of coffee at the Brit bar just across the road. As I walked in the owner started a rambling tale about some customer who needed an ambulance and could I phone for one because the numbers I'd given him didn't work. As the number was 112, the European emergency number, I rather doubted his story but it didn't seem reasonable to have a discussion about the efficiency of Spanish administration if someone needed help.
"Alright" says I, "where does this chap live, what's he called and what's wrong with him?" "Er, Torre del Rico number 10, Ted and his legs hurt".
So with this rather scanty information I phone 112 and tell them I need an ambulance from Jumilla (Torre del Rico is administratively linked to the larger town of Jumilla which just happens to be over the administrative border, not in our province of Alicante but in Murcia). The Alicante 112 call centre passes me to the Murcia control centre. So far so good.
The following conversation would be bizarre in any language but imagine it in dodgy Spanish.
You need an ambulance in Murcia but you're phoning from Alicante? Yes, I just popped into a bar where the owner had taken a phone call from a customer:
So is the customer in the bar? No he's at home:
In Murcia? In Murcia:
So what's the relationship between the sick man and the bar owner? No idea:
So what's your relationship to the sick man? None:
Why didn't the chap phone himself? No idea:
Why did he phone a bar? No idea:
What's wrong with him? His legs hurt and he can't walk:
What's he called? Ted:
And his other names? No idea:
How old is he? No idea:
Any medical history? No idea:
Where does he live? Number 10 Torre del Rico:
Where's that close to in the village? No idea:
What's his phone number? Hang on - at this point I have to go to find the bar owner who is contentedly getting on with a stock take -we think it's so and so:
But that's an Alicante number, are you sure you want Murcia? Yes.
At this point the operator asks me what language I speak and passes me to an English speaking operator who confirms the answers I've given. She obviously thinks I'm bonkers but she says she will send an ambulance.
I was quite cross about this whole episode.