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Mission Briefs: September and October 2021


December 3, 2021
Categories: Safety, Health, In Action

COVID-19 fears are subsiding and travelers are significantly less concerned about taking domestic or international trips. Since the pandemic started a year a half ago, nearly 86% of travelers have taken domestic trips and 42% have traveled internationally. Between April and October, there has been a 74% jump in people taking domestic trips and an enormous 207% increase in individuals traveling internationally.    

As COVID-19 fears subside and traveler confidence surges, people are returning to travel and Global Rescue is answering the service needs of travelers here and abroad without any disruptions. In a typical 30-day period, Global Rescue executes hundreds of operations in dozens of countries and principalities. Below are highlights from some of our most recent operations in various locations.  

COVID-19 Medical Evacuation from The Bahamas  

A Montana resident was on the final day of her fly fishing trip on the tiny island of Great Inagua in The Bahamas when a required COVID-19 test returned a positive result. The island’s small clinic was not capable of providing the level of medical care needed. “This was a field rescue, and the member needed a level of hospital care not available on the island, so we arranged an immediate air ambulance transport to a hospital capable of rendering the member with needed medical care,” said Jeff Weinstein, Global Rescue medical operations supervisor. “We knew we had to get the member out as soon as possible.”  The member was transported to a hospital in Miami and immediately admitted, examined and began receiving monoclonal antibody treatment. Weeks later, the member is back home and nearly fully recovered. 

Blown Away in Argentina  

Mendoza,-Argentina

A strong wind gust at high elevation (11,000 feet/3,352 meters) in the Valle de las Lagrimas, Mendoza, Argentina blew an expedition tent over, crashing into a member. Badly injured, an immediate helicopter medical evacuation was ordered. The member was transported to the nearest hospital capable of delivering the needed level of medical care. Upon arrival, an examination and imaging were conducted, confirming the member sustained a fractured left clavicle and a closed pneumothorax, a life-threatening injury that traps air and dangerously compresses the lungs and heart. The member was treated and recovered.  

Helicopter Rescue from Mount Everest, Nepal  

A father and daughter were trekking in the Himalayas, when the 20-year-old daughter showed increasing signs of acute mountain sickness while at Mount Everest Base Camp (17,024 feet/5,180 meters). The father contacted Global Rescue and reported his daughter was extremely weak with a low oxygen saturation level despite taking twice-daily doses of acetazolamide, a medication used to treat altitude illness. Global Rescue medical operations ordered a helicopter field rescue after assessing the situation. The team confirmed the member was experiencing multiple signs of altitude sickness, including severe headache, vomiting, body weakness, lethargy and dizziness at an elevation of 17,024 feet/5,180 meters. The member was successfully transported to the closest hospital capable of providing the required medical care, where she was evaluated, admitted and treated for acute mountain sickness, high altitude pulmonary edema, acute respiratory tract infection and dehydration. The member was discharged and deemed fit to fly following 24 hours of stable condition.  

Slip and Fall in Switzerland  

Locarno,-Switzerland

When a member tripped and fell face-first on rocks during an excursion in Locarno, Switzerland, she suffered a severe injury to her jaw. Fortunately, she and her husband would be able to return to their home country for follow-up care on a commercial flight in business class. But government-required COVID-19 tests for both members came back positive. Global Rescue identified and transported the couple to a local hospital capable of supporting COVID-19-positive patients. The medical facility also had a staff maxillofacial surgeon — a specialist who treats injuries of the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. Luckily, surgery was not needed for the injured jaw and the couple elected to complete their recoveries with self-managed care.  

International Medical Layover in the United States  

A Florida-based member was on his way home from Tanzania, when he began having respiratory difficulties an hour into a flight from Johannesburg, South Africa. The flight landed in Newark, New Jersey, where the 65-year-old member was scheduled to board a connecting flight to his home in Florida. Due to his condition, he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia secondary to complications with rhinovirus and admitted to the intensive care unit. Several days later, the treating physician deemed the member fit to fly home provided he received oxygen and had a medical escort. Global Rescue deployed a medic to facilitate the member’s safe return home. The member is recovering at home and following up with his physician.  

Dangerous Stairs in Dubrovnik, Croatia  

Dubrovnik,-Croatia

A member fell down several stairs while on vacation in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Medical staff at a local hospital treated her and identified multiple fractures to her arm. The treating physician discharged her with a scheduled follow-up re-evaluation to determine whether a surgical intervention was needed. Lacking confidence in their assessment, the member asked Global Rescue to weigh in. Based on all the available information, medical reports and severity of the injury, Global Rescue medical doctors recommended expedited commercial air transport for the member in a business class seat. Global Rescue operations team provided a new set of business class tickets for the member as well as ground transport from the Pittsburg airport to the member’s home where she would follow up with her physician. 

Shortness of Breath While Trekking in Nepal  

Trekking at higher elevations can lead to high-altitude illnesses. Unfortunately, for a member from Texas who was trekking in Chekhung, Nepal (18,209 feet/5,550 meters), the upper elevation led to shortness of breath, coughing and chest pains. The member developed high-altitude illness conditions during an attempt to summit Imja Tse/Island Peak (20,305 feet/6,189 meters). Trekking guides decided to take the member back to camp after her condition worsened. Despite the lower altitude and rest, the member’s condition did not improve. Her heart rate was elevated and her oxygen saturation had dropped dangerously to 72%. Global Rescue was notified and an immediate helicopter field rescue was ordered. The member was transported to the nearest medical facility capable of dispensing the necessary level of medical care, where she was admitted and treated for acute mountain sickness and Type 2 diabetes mellitus acidosis. She was discharged the next day and continued her recovery at her hotel followed by a follow-up appointment before her flight home.  


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