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Mystery Infection Hits Adventure Racer in Fiji


February 27, 2020
Categories: Member Testimonials

Cuts, scrapes, bumps, bruises and fatigue. These are the typical ailments athletes suffer following an adventure race. But for Dianette Wells, a 53-year-old Park City, Utah resident competing in a Fiji-based adventure race, the post-race distress went far beyond the conventional.

Wells admitted she gets pretty banged up after her races but acknowledged something was different after the Fiji adventure race.

“My team was finished racing. Three of us were laying in our beds in the hotel room and the medical staff for the race was overwhelmed because so many competitors had issues going on with gashes, wounds and skin infections,” she said.

At that point, Wells wasn’t as bad off as her two teammates.

“One was having his leg debrided. Another had a fever. I didn’t feel well, but I was lying in bed eating Tandoori chicken, so I probably looked fine to the medical staff compared to the others.”

Things got worse for Wells late that night.

“I had a high fever and nonstop diarrhea. I knew something was seriously wrong. I texted my local Park City, Utah doctor,” she said. Coincidentally, prior to going to Fiji for the adventure race Wells had provided her hometown doctor with all her information and the Global Rescue contact details, too.

“I told him to call Global Rescue if something happens to me. So he made the call and that set into motion Global Rescue stepping in.”

Alone in a Foreign Country

Wells was alone in a foreign country and starting to get anxious. She was concerned about her gear, costly medical bills, her rising fever, the nonstop gastro-intestinal symptoms — and she could barely walk.

“I was panicking about so many things that I couldn’t control,” she said.

Global Rescue arranged for ground transport from the hotel to the hospital. But Wells was reluctant.

“Global Rescue kept telling me that I had to leave the room, get in the ambulance and go to the hospital. It was the last thing I wanted to do,” she said.

Global Rescue coordinated help and sent two Fijian women from the hotel up to Wells’ room with a wheelchair.

“The women convinced me to leave. I got into the ambulance and was taken to a local hospital. Then Global Rescue had a couple of people show up just to sit with me in my hospital room and help take care of me, getting juice, keeping me comfortable. These people did not leave my side,” she said.

Ultimately, Global Rescue provided air transport on a medevac equipped aircraft for Wells to a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand where she was treated for a week. Wells says she had cellulitis and was infected with ESBL, or Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase, a type of enzyme or chemical produced by some bacteria. Her hand was also badly infected.

Dianette Wells 2

“I still have ESBL and I could have it for a couple of years. It’s still unclear. It may have come from contaminated water. No one really knows. I feel incredibly fortunate I had such good medical care in New Zealand and a prompt evacuation out of Fiji,” she said.

Wells has raced and climbed for years but has never needed to call on Global Rescue. When she did, her expectations were exceeded. She was surprised that Global Rescue stayed with her from beginning to end.

“Global Rescue took care of everything. Little things, like when we had a few hours between leaving the hospital and getting on the airplane. Global Rescue put me in a hotel room so I could sleep before going to the airport. Every detail was taken care of. It was like being taken care of by my mother,” she said.

Wells is a longtime Global Rescue member.

“I originally got it for a climb I had in Antarctica and rescue services were required. Now, it’s just something I want since I travel a lot. I’ve bought memberships for my children and as gifts for friends. It’s one of those things I never leave home without. If something goes wrong in a foreign country and you need to get out, then why not have the Global Rescue experts in charge of all that?”


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