While New York City has, rightly or wrongly, for a long time been considered particularly crime-ridden and dangerous, recent statistics in fact point to the contrary. Figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the past several years show a significant decrease in crime, and according to the 2012 Forbes report, the Big Apple presently enjoys a reputation as the safest large city (population of one million or more) in the United States, with crime at its lowest level since 1968. Security has also been tightened at major events and landmarks since the 9/11 attacks. Visitors are advised to follow typical precautions taken in any major city: safeguard money and valuables; avoid contact with panhandlers or potential scam artists; try to stay in well-lit areas at night; and remain aware of your surroundings.  If you want all this information summarized, there's an iPhone/iPad app called BeSafe! that is quite useful for knowing which neighborhoods are more dangerous than others, by assessing danger levels based on the location and the time of day, and tells you where pickpockets and gangs prowl and which subway stations are the most dangerous.

Part of what makes New York safe these days is the amount of light in the city at all times of day including all through the night. Even areas with particularly bad reputations like the Bronx pose little threat to anybody walking through as long as you stick to the lighted paths and use common sense.

 Times Square is a very safe place for a tourist to be in fact, anywhere in the Theater District is considered safe. Manhattan in general is well laid out and patrolled so the threat of anything other than the usual big city petty crime (pickpockets, purse snatchers, etc) is almost none.

Central Park can be scary at night but that does not necessarily mean that it is not safe. Just use common sense and avoid areas of the park that are particularly dark. If you visit the park after dark, try and stick close to the street.

Harlem also has a reputation for being a bad neighborhood but in recent years, it has changed and actually become quite a hip place to be in especially for the younger crowd. That being said, however, Harlem has its share of beggars and street scams to be wary of. You may find yourself approached by sellers wanting to tempt you with all sorts of fun looking goods. These are usually NOT the vendors that you see around Times Square and many times, the goods are fake or immensley overpriced. This is especially prevelent around the Harlem Market but this should not deter you from visiting this colorful neighborhood. 

 

What to do if you are injured, sick, or fate steps in....


Hotel

Has your little girl got a fever and is she lying in her hotel bed, sick as a dog? Good. She can be helped.  Most of the major hotels in New York City have a concierge-in this instance, he can be your friend as he can call a doctor to see you or recommend one of the hundreds of clinics that dot the city. Though visitors may be unfamiliar with the fee-for-services nature of healthcare in America, it is inevitably better to take a risk and see the doctor than to spend an evening being horribly ill (and consequently returning home to see the doctor much sicker and weaker, plus the risk of spreading infection on an airplane.)  For British visitors, while the front desk is looking around for medical assistance, try calling the NHS services at home for enquiries about billing: they should be able to help with the cost!

Little Strangers

 Babies.  Women have them everyday, at any hour, and even occasionally by surprise: yes, your little one could decide he likes New York so much he wants to see it from outside the womb! Should this be the case, whip out a mobile phone or find somebody that has one: it  is time to punch in the numbers 911 and send on the keypad!  No sane New Yorker is going to turn down the frantic husband trying to get assistance for his wife  whose water has just  broken all over the floor of Rockefeller Center. When you get through, tell the operator your name, where you are, who is with you,  and what the situation is.  Within ten minutes, an ambulance shall arrive with paramedics to take a woman and (if applicable)her family to the nearest hospital where she will receive treatment from a battery of nurses and obstetricians in a clean environment. If she is in premature labor, New York paramedics typically have some rudimentary medical training which includes administration of medication (for pain, for bleeding) and oxygen tanks (if she delivers in the ambulance) so she should be fine once help arrives.

 

If you are a husband whose wife is expecting, DO NOT attempt to drive to the nearest hospital yourself if she goes into labor.  Visitors to New York are by nature less familiar with the lay of the land and can't always predict when and where traffic shall strike: your wife may end up having to be delivered in the backseat or in your excitement you may get wrapped around a tree!  The ambulance is a better way to go, especially if her contractions are closer together: by law, when ambulances flash their sirens all traffic in front of them must get out of the way and they can by law ignore whatever the traffic light says (a green light is no different than a red one.)  They also cannot prioritize calls: a bad condition can turn into a worse one quickly and it is the aim of most ambulance dispatchers to avoid this. If you have made the mistake of trying to get her to the hospital and it looks like birth is imminent, try to flag down a policeman or fireman (look for a police car marked NYPD or the characteristic red firetruck) and ask for his help: for once what you see in the movies is actually TRUE. New York firemen and policemen are trained to assist with deliveries of pregnant women (there is even a code for it) as part of their duties to "serve and protect" the city. Once you've got the cop or fireman's attention, he can  get your wife to somewhere safe, and he can use his radio link to call for medical assistance once the little one is delivered (as a matter of course and for safety's sake, the NYPD, NYFD, and the paramedics can speak to each other on their radios as they all use the same frequency.) He can also call for an area to be cleared (includes streets, restaurants, and public transit) so that your wife can have a little privacy and he can radio for backup if the baby seems to be coming in a matter of minutes rather than hours.  

 

Hospital Care

 

Hospitals in New York  (and especially Manhattan) are generally clean, safe, and well staffed with nearly every medical discipine known to man: there are over a hundred of them on Manhattan Island alone.The policy of nearly every hospital is one of extreme cleanliness (this is why there are chutes marked biohazard on the door: these are where used needles and surgical materials are carefully disposed of.)  New York City hospitals have many whistles and bells designed to deliver care to a very large city with very different ethnic needs and  public health authorities make every attempt to do so: for Orthodox Jews, Hatzolah services are available, for Muslims, female doctors can administer to sick women and private rooms can be arranged for, and for everyone, helicopter pads are common on the rooftops: a chopper can bring a person in a car wreck to safety in less than ten minutes and is very useful with so many highways lacing the city, ergo they are a popular choice. Do not be too surprised if you see one.

Over the past 50 years, the city of New York has been slogging away at public health scares, everything from blizzard related injuries to the 2009 swine flu outbreak.  Today, an enormous amount of medical research comes out of New York, including a very hands on approach with the public, especially with diseases common in immigrant communities (Hepatitis C) and most strains of  HIV/AIDS (New York was one of the first  two cities to report it in 1983 and has been slogging away at "taming the beast" ever since, often spawning new drugs along the way.)   Research into cancer and autism treatments is ongoing and well funded  at institutions like Sloane-Kettering and Bellevue Hospital respectively; other hospitals like NYU and New York-Presbyterian have not only published work in medical journals but also have assisted the governments of other cities set up plans for bioterrorist threats.  Generally, a visitor need not worry if he can be helped: in the words of Pat Benatar, if confronted with an ailment, the motto of a NYC Hospital doc would be "hit me with your best shot!"

Typically, a person who has hurt themselves while sightseeing or has an emergency shall be brought to the ER and seen first by one of many nurses: the nurses will ask him to sign paperwork (this gives the ER permission to treat him,) will ask questions about how he feels, and will either hand him over to either a resident (doctor-in-training, getting practical experience) or to the attending physician (man in charge of residents, may have some specialized knowledge.) He will be examined and, depending on the needs of his case, shall be brought to other portions of the hospital for things like X-Rays, CT scans, etc. He also may be examined by a specialist if it is warranted (specialized  doctors are common in the United States and the doctors are generally very knowledgeable about their subjects: they are usually called if the ER docs believe a case is serious enough or requires extra knowledge, like a mangled leg in a bike accident.)

If the patient is not conscious when he is brought in, doctors are obligated to do everything in their power to treat the condition or save his life if necessary and will take as much information as they can from the paramedics the moment a person is brought through the door: visitors from foreign countries take note that this often means searching a pocketbook for identification so that family and friends can be called and found. (It remains illegal to steal it or any of his personal effects, but it may be a needed step so that at least 1) they know his identity (and age) 2) they will know if the person is taking any prescriptions or other meds and 3) so that tracking down his next of kin in London will not be a nightmare.) If he is accompanied by a friend or family member in either case they also maybe asked questions about the health of their companion if they are of age to do so (children are generally taken to a place where they can be minded and where someone can gently explain what has happened, if necessary.)

If he is admitted, he will  be given a bracelet with his name and ID number and eventually he'll be given a room "upstairs" (the ER is almost always on the ground floor.) His room will contain a  telephone, a television set (activated for a fee) and most often shall have extra room at the head of the bed (where the doctors can hook him up to an IV unit or machinery.)   


Women who go into labor are brought to the ER if birth is coming and therafter are brought to the obstetrics/gynecology department  which is usually close to the neonatal unit: The doctors will want to monitor Mum and baby (especially if the circumstances are unusual) and will want Daddy to give as much information as possible (even blood type will help.)  If the baby is not to term, he or she shall be placed in the NICU and normally receive round the clock care, but the doctors will probably want further paperwork from the parents. In all cases they also will want to register the birth for legal purposes and permission forms signed, so if your wife has checked in and given birth to a little bundle of joy, please comply: the doctors just want to know what they can and cannot do.

 

 

If one is not a native speaker of English, one may request a translator or telephone service to translators in the native country in question; American law states that a patient must  have informed consent and the hospitals are very strict about this law (they face stern prosecution if they do not comply.) The most common known/used  languages are (in no particular order:)

French          Japanese

Spanish         Russian

Polish             Mandarin

Vietnamese    Arabic

Tagalog          Italian

Hebrew        German