Emergency number 911 is busy?

September 29, 2006

Everyone knows which number to dial if there is an emergency: 911. But what if this number is busy and you are put on hold (it’s often the case!)… I share with you some tips I received from “ICE Safety Solutions“, a company giving safety trainings.

1) If you dial 911 from a landscape phone (e.g. from home), you will be dispatched automatically to the nearest “Fire Emergency Line”. You will receive help directly and don’t have to wait.

2) If you dial 911 from a cell phone, the system doesn’t know where you are (as opposite with a landscape phone) and you will arrive to a Central Dispatching of Emergency. You have great chances to be put on hold because of huge traffic to this Central Dispatching. When you get someone, they will ask you in which State and City you are and then will dispatch you to your local “Fire Emergency Line”.

Two things you can do if you are put on hold:

  • Dial 411 (Directory search) and ask for the “Fire Emergency Line” of the city where you are. The number given to you is the DIRECT number of Fire Emergency Line and avoids you the Central Dispatching of 911.
  • Dial the DIRECT number of Fire Emergency Line that you previously put in your cell phone. For example, I already programmed in my cell phone the direct number of Fire Emergency Line of the nearest cities  where I live (San Jose- Milpitas-Sunnyvale) in case of I have an accident on the road in the neighbourhood.

Tip: Program your local emergency phone number into your cell phone so you have it handy in case of an emergency. Look here to find the phone numbers (for the Bay Area only).

Tip: Before to call the 911 from a cell phone, be sure to know in which State and City you are (it will be the first question that the Central Dispatcher will ask you).



July 30, 2006
  • Call 911 (emergency services such as ambulance, fire, and police).

  • It is recommended to have always on you an insurance card and and your blood group type, and to inquire on the quality of the emergency service of the closest hospital.

Medical Insurance

July 30, 2006

The doctors do tend to prescribe too many tests or x-rays even if it is not necessary as there is a fear of lawsuits.

  • In the United States, the patient is responsible for 100 % of all his medical expenses if he does not have medical coverage. It is strongly recommended to have a medical insurance via your employer.

  • Which doctors and hospitals to choose? It will depend on your  medical insurance as they have their list of “in-network”doctors:

    • If you choose “in-network” doctors, your insurance will cover 100% of the costs and you will pay a co-pay (amount that you pay at each visit = mostly 10 or 15 dollars).

    • If you choose “out-network” doctors, you insurance will cover 85% of the costs.

  • In case of hospitalization, it will be necessary for you to supply a proof of coverage or solvency.

  • Tip: Bring from your home country a complete medical file (Health record, immunization record, X-ray, …).

  • What we did and why? we are covered by United Healthcare as they cover most of costs and has a very good network of specialists. We didn’t want to risk as I gave birth in USA and wanted to be well-insured. Of course, United Healthcare is quite expensive (+/- 250$ deducted from gross salary/month).


July 30, 2006

A lot of medicines are sold ” Over The Counter ” that is on open sale in drugstores such:

  • Walgreens (opened 24 hours), 

  • Rite Aid, 

  • Long Drugs,

Or grocery stores such:

  • Safeway 

  • Albertsons

Some pharmacies deliver free of charge the prescriptions phoned by the doctor. There is nurse’s service, but many pharmacies are opened on Sundays.

Giving birth in USA

July 30, 2006

The C-section rate in the United States is high, representing more than 29 percent of births. If you have a low-risk pregnancy and you would like to have a natural delivery, we would recommend you to deliver at the hospital with mid-wives as their C-section rate is low. Certified mid-wives are specially trained to support women in labor and are credentialed to deliver babies. On the contrary, doulas are also specially trained to support women in labor but they are not credentialed to deliver babies.

  • Be sure to be insured as insurance companies ask most of the time a transition period for expecting mothers.

  • Be sure that your insurance is affiliated with the OB physician (or mid-wife) and the hospital.

  • Tip: Bring from your home country, your Gynecological file translated in English (especially I you are relocated during your pregnancy!).

  • What we did and why? I gave birth at El Camino Hospital with mid-wives (Lin Lee and Olga Libova) from Altos Oaks Medical Group. The mid-wives are always working with an OB-Gyn Physician in back-up. I had chosen K.M. Weber as he has good reputation. I had a great experience with Lin and Olga. I would strongly recommend them. If you want to meet them before to make a choice, you can meet them on a free “Afternoon Tea” on the second Sunday of the month.