Detailed Advice Helps a Student Evacuate

January 9, 2020
Categories: Member Testimonials

When an extradition proposal sparked protests in Hong Kong several months ago, few people anticipated the demonstrations would steadily escalate. When Daniela Shields’ daughter Alli departed the U.S. in August for a semester study abroad program at the Lingnan University in the Hong Kong suburb of Tuen Mun, the rallies were both manageable and predictable.

“There was news about where the protests would be and what time they would take place. If you stayed away from that then it was manageable. You never really felt like you were in harm’s way,” Shields said.

But that all changed dramatically just a few months later. The demonstrations were increasingly frequent, larger, more violent, much less foreseeable — and they were spreading beyond the downtown area.

“The protests and the riots were popping up all over the place. They were more severe and more violent than they had been in the past. They started filtering from downtown Hong Kong to the universities, which is where my daughter was studying,” she said.

Alli, ordinarily levelheaded and composed, contacted her mother and admitted that, for the first time, she was scared.

“When she told me she was afraid and potentially in trouble I knew something had to happen,” Shields said. “High Point University had contracted with International SOS, a medical and travel security services firm. I asked them for their input and what they thought was going on,” she said.

But their responses didn’t reassure her.

“They were nice, but not very helpful. They didn’t give me any more information than Fox News or CNN or the local consulate. When a loved one, especially a child, is in harm’s way and they are too far for you to step in and protect them, the feeling of horrible concern, helplessness and despair sets in.”

That’s when Shields called Global Rescue, a leading travel risk and crisis management services company. She and her family had been members for many years.

“As Alli was getting ready to travel to Hong Kong the protests were starting. It made me a little bit anxious. I knew Global Rescue offered security services and I thought that this might be a good time to sign her up for that. As it turns out I’m very glad we did,” she said.

Shields asked Global Rescue the same questions she asked others, but the answers she received were vastly better.

“I got in touch with Global Rescue’s Security Operations Department and spoke with Harding Bush who is a former Navy SEAL and an associate manager of operations. He gave me specific recommendations. I learned things from Bush that I didn’t hear until the next day on the news and it was stuff that we needed to know so we could take care of Alli. I felt like we were ahead of the eight ball at every turn,” she said.

Global Rescue Advises: Relocate Alli

At one point, Bush discovered that Alli was in a hotel on Hong Kong Island, separated from the airport by the Kowloon peninsula. He quickly advised Shields to relocate Alli.

“He explained that if the protesters block the causeway and tunnels then she won’t be able to get to the airport. He told us that Alli needed to keep her passport with her at all times, along with enough cash to get to the airport, water and snack bars — so she’s ready to leave on a moment’s notice,” she said.

Alli moved to another hotel, ultimately got a ticket and flew out of Hong Kong. Shields was free from worry knowing Global Rescue had “eyes on Alli” and was monitoring her safety.

“It’s the specifics that made the difference. Everybody else I reached out to was kind but very broad in their brushstroke. Just kind of milk toast. What you really need under those circumstances are specific recommendations. That was the most helpful thing. I felt like I had some control over her safety. That’s the biggest plus,” she said.

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