If you fulltime—especially if you fulltime—you are going to have some type of emergency at some point in time. Like a true emergency, you won’t get much, if any, warning. It just happens. It happened to us.
A Personal Story… We were visiting old friends (non-RVers) in New Hampshire and had parked our motorhome in their driveway for the week. Sandy (my wife) wasn’t feeling great (unusual for her) but we visited, ate, drank, ran around, stayed up late and talked, and did those things you do with old friends that you haven’t seen for a while.
After about four days, Sandy decided to see a doctor. When one of us decides this, we go. It just so happened that there was no outpatient medical (urgent-care type) clinic around there. That type of emergency care was offered at an outpatient clinic run by the hospital in Laconia (about 20 miles from us).
We went to the clinic and they promptly put Sandy in the hospital for diverticulitis—a condition of the lower colon that could turn dangerous.
Everything turned out fine. I even moved my motorhome to the hospital. I called the hospital security, told them my wife was just admitted, would probably stay for a week, and could I park my coach there and stay in it? Security put me in the back of the employee parking lot and I had a great spot, totally quiet, and security drove by about every hour, 24/7. I stayed there for five days.
Where Do You Find Emergency Information?
Obviously, our friends knew of the clinic and hospital since they live there. However, as a fulltimer or on extended travel, you likely don’t have those knowledgeable friends handy.
Campground owners usually maintain lists of phone numbers in their office for numerous local emergency services. They regularly deal with RVers who know nothing about the area and, when needed, this is welcome information. You are an RVer and likely have a campground directory to find the campground phone number.
Chambers of Commerce, Sheriff departments, and fire stations all have local emergency contact information for hospitals and specialists. Motels and hotels also keep emergency numbers as a service to their guests. They will share information with anyone in an emergency. Drive into the hotel/motel, park temporarily, and ask in person.
Some RVers program the local police-emergency phone number (not 911) into their cell phone when they are staying in an area for a while. But be aware that there are numerous places, especially in the west, where cell phones will not work at all. There is no service regardless of your carrier.
Dialing “911” on Your Cell Phone
Dialing “911” on your cell phone should connect you with local emergency services regardless of where you are located. For example, assume your cell phone is registered to a 940 area code (Denton, Texas) and you are traveling in Montana (406 area code). Suppose you see an emergency in Montana and call “911.” The local (Montana) cell tower that picks up the call signal should send the call to the local (Montana) 911 operator—not back to Denton, Texas (where your phone is registered).
A number of GPS units and programs contain searchable business data (including phone numbers). With some GPS programs, you can purchase extra business and personal data (more listings) for your computer. While it is handy for finding a local pizza place, it is great for finding medical help of nearly any kind. You must know how to search the program for the specific type of business so it is necessary to learn this process before actually needing to use it. For a true medical emergency, the GPS may be the least efficient method for locating help.