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SMA’s “Monolingual” 911 Services Prompts New Expat Emergency Number

By Jesús Aguado

The complaints over San Miguel’s emergency services number being slow to respond to English-speaking callers are nothing new. In the past, expats have told Atención about waiting up to five minutes until their language could even be “decoded” by phone operators. Although both the 2009–2012 and later the 2012-2015 municipal administrations worked to have more bilingual operators, they were never successful.

Now the State Secretariat of Public Safety has cast its eye on this lacking service in San Miguel, helping the local administration because its system was “monolingual,” i.e., with only Spanish-speaking operators.

The San Miguel municipal government put out a press release not long ago, proclaiming, “Now the expat community has a specialized emergency number.” The press release “proudly” presented the new emergency number that the state government has put into effect—018009767486.

“[This] is a line for bilingual service,” the press release also stated. “The operator will serve calls in English and Japanese, according to the needs of those calling.”

The press release made it clear that this new strategy has been put into place because the new 911 emergency number now in effect in San Miguel was taking calls from expats who needed attention in their native language. Until now, 911 emergency services were available only in Spanish, it said.

Atención did call the 018009767486 emergency number, and after a few seconds someone took our call in Japanese. We did speak in English and told the operator that it was not an emergency, that we were just trying to find out if the emergency services operators were based in San Miguel. They turned out to be located between León and Silao. From there, they request any needed help from the relevant municipality.

The municipal administration has invited the expat community to use the new specialized number.


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