Don't Get Stuck Without Emergency Medical Evacuation
By Ryan J. Smith
For most people, the term medevac (medical evacuation) sounds like something reserved for a wounded soldier in the field of battle. But, as our personal interaction with the global community expands through professional obligation; volunteerism; and personal interest; we find ourselves in new and exciting areas of the world. As wonderfully breathtaking as these regions may be, they often lack the resources necessary to provide sufficient medical treatment; thus, requiring the use of emergency medical evacuation. While this service is at times the only option, the cost of such services may be exponentially more than anyone is prepared to afford. For this reason, emergency medical evacuation insurance has grown in popularity for travelers trying to cover all their bases and spending five minutes with any insurance broker can uncover how medevac has not only proven useful but saved lives. Which is why the G1G crew has made this an industry standard by including it in most policies.
Carolyn C. Tinsley, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Akeso Care Management®, Inc (a subsidiary of International Medical Group®, Inc.) shared with me a number of compelling instances in which emergency medical evacuation came in handy for the vulnerable traveler. While serving as missionaries in Tanzania, located on the eastern coast of Africa, a family experienced what could be considered the most traumatic of events. Their four year old daughter put a metal object in a light socket that lacked the proper ground fault interrupter, a feature that would have shorted the socket and released the child from its grip. One-by-one, in the throes of panic, the family attempted to free the young girl, only to be caught in its current. If it hadn’t been for the help of a neighbor who knew to use a piece of lumber to dislodge the human chain, this story would have had another ending. Alas, while the efforts of the neighbor helped, they simply were not enough and the father knew he didn’t have long to get his daughter treatment. He began calling his insurance care provider, Akeso Care Management®, for assistance.
Unfortunately, the nearby facilities was unable to properly treat the girl so the customer care provider began assembling a medevac team that would airlift the family to a sufficient facility. Within hours, the helicopter, equipped with the necessary physicians and medical equipment was en route to a facility where the child could receive proper treatment. The physicians at the facility agreed that if she had waited any longer for medical treatment, her chances of ever walking again would be slim to none. Luckily for her, the emergency medical evacuation services had her transported with en route aviation treatment and today, the little girl is back at her usual ballet lessons, living a happy and joyous life.
How does it work? Companies such as Akeso Care Management® have developed over years, a network of medevac providers to suit the unique needs that may arise while traveling. Apart from providing, emergency medical evacuation, which includes physicians that are specially trained in medical aviation, they also assist with many of the logistical nuances of medical evacuation.
Many people are unaware that not every condition may be airlifted given the difficulties presented by changing oxygen levels at different altitudes, turbulence and general stability of the patient. For this reason, the physicians will provide the proper assessment to ensure that the patient receives the best treatment available.
Apart from unique medical circumstances, emergency medical evacuation providers will assist with diplomatic difficulties that might arise from transporting a patient through various air zones and into unstable regions. One such instance arose when Akeso Care Management® were contacted about a man in Papua New Guinea, a large island north of Australia, that needed immediate medical evacuation. The country, however, had recently passed legislation that gave one domestic, medevac company a monopoly on medical evacuation, barring the most suitable medevac company from even entering the air zone. While most providers are willing to use whoever is best suited for the job, the domestic company did not meet the required standards forcing Akeso Care Management® to manipulate the diplomatic bureaucracy and successfully retrieve the man from the island; of which, had a landing strip without lights, making the nighttime evacuation near impossible. The team was forced to think on their feet and arranged a series of cars to shine their headlamps on the dark landing strip.
These are just a couple of the seemingly endless selection of stories and most insurance brokers share them with great pride. This is a product that takes great skill and experience to manipulate to every new circumstance, leaving all parties involved with a sense of great accomplishment. It never ceases to amaze me, the extent to which humans will go in attempting to save another human life.
Zubair Jeewanjee, CEO of G1G, proclaims that this is exactly why he offers it with most policies and even provides it to the public as a stand alone policy for those that already have insurance but want to add the extra protection. It's important to bear in mind that the cost of an air ambulance may be upwards of $70,000 USD, according to Squaremouth Travel Insurance, so the plans offered by G1G are a great option for someone visiting a remote or less industrialized area of the world.
Here are some tips to remember when purchasing Emergency Medical Evacuation. For starters, assess if you need the coverage in the first place. You may answer this by looking on the state department website that provides travel information and safety warnings for less developed areas of the world. Second, be sure to ask how far away the closest air ambulance is to your location. In most cases, the closest one is only a few hours out, but it's a good idea to ask anyway. And lastly, make sure that your policy covers at least $50,000 USD. In most cases, this should cover the entirety of your expenses but in rare instances, $100,000 USD coverage is necessary. If you follow these simple steps, and visit the G1G website, a detailed layout will explain how the insurance functions and how to access the customer portal that will guide you through any situation. Then, all that's left to do is sit back and enjoy the journey!