The number of users of the Foreigners’ Emergency Medical Service, which the Seoul Metropolitan Government has commissioned to the Seoul Emergency Medical Information Center (1339) since May 2008, amounted to 13,283 by March 2011.
The Foreigners’ Emergency Medical Service operates 24 hours a day throughout the year. Medical professionals proficient in foreign languages are on standby around the clock, so foreign residents who are not proficient in the Korean language can receive useful assistance in the event of an emergency.
At present, the service offers counseling (translation) in English, Chinese, and Japanese. Fifteen medical doctors and nurses support patients in the areas of internal medicine, emergency medicine, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, and plastic surgery.
Concerning the language services, 48 percent of all users used the English-language service, followed by 11 percent for the Chinese language service, 7 percent for the Japanese-language, and 34 percent for other languages.
By type of medical service, 2.4 percent of patients received first aid guidance and 11 percent received disease counseling, while the majority of users (53 percent) were guided to other medical institutions.
Also, since use of the service has increased by more than 40 percent each year, it is effectively serving as a “helper for emergency medicine,” allowing foreign residents in Seoul to lead a safer, healthier life.
Amid the growing trend towards multiculturalism in Seoul, the service will, from this year’s second half (August), offer medical counseling in Vietnamese and Mongolian, the languages in which it receives the most requests, on top of the major languages of English, Japanese and Chinese.