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Working in the World’s Hot Spots


September 20, 2022
Categories: Safety, Health, Security and Intelligence

The world is more complicated than ever. The risks of travel seem bigger and more likely. Global Rescue can help your business navigate this new terrain of travel risk to keep your employees safe, protect your reputation, and meet your bottom line.  


The world is a different place in 2022. From the pandemic to civil unrest, it seems more dangerous and unpredictable than ever. But if you work in a “hot zone” — an area affected by limited infrastructure or environmental or geographical challenges — you can’t just stop when things get risky. Work may need to continue on the construction site, oil rig or in the corporate office.

Or what if some place turns into a hot zone while you’re there?

“Sometimes it’s not a hot spot, and the next day it is,” said John Morris, director of account management at Global Rescue. “Getting the advice you need to leave when a situation suddenly becomes risky is huge. It can protect your people, but it also protects you from reputational harm.”

Harding Bush, security operations manager for Global Rescue, knows well the risks and pitfalls companies may face while working in hot zones. He is a former Navy Seal and worked for an oil company in Yemen during the Arab Spring.

[Related Reading: Situational Awareness While Traveling on Business]

Based on his experience — 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEALS, 12 years in international corporate  security, and four years with Global Rescue — Bush identified some unique situations companies may face if they are operating in a hot zone:

  • Civil unrest: “There was extreme civil unrest during the Arab Spring, and the government and military response intersected with where our company was operating in the capital city of Sana’a,” he said. “The protest and response activity significantly restricted the company's mobility; employees could not travel between their homes and the office. The airport was often inaccessible.” 
  • Limited and unreliable infrastructure: Many remote areas rely on generators, which then rely on fuel deliveries, which rely on local drivers who must traverse unpaved roads in poorly maintained vehicles.  
  • Communication difficulties: Local cell service can be poor and, in some cases, the government may be monitoring communication. While in Yemen, Bush’s team worked around this through satellite internet, satellite phones, messaging devices and trackers. “Especially when transiting longer distances in remote regions, the ability to stay in touch with security personnel and organization leadership enhances overall awareness and safety,” he said.
  • Local laws: “Tribal disputes that included armed conflict were also a threat in the field,” Bush said. “Tribal warfare would often break out between local tribes and the weapons used were modern and deadly: artillery, rockets and armored vehicles. While this is not typical for most global companies, it does emphasize the importance of how local issues can affect company safety and productivity.”
  • Corruption: Sometimes what a corporation views as corruption could be regular business in the country. But just because it’s accepted doesn’t relieve the company of its anti-corruption standards.
  • Differing safety standards: “Good safety is good security. Safety standards in many parts of the world are nowhere near what they are in the U.S. or other first-world regions. This can enable and restrict production. Vehicle safety is a massive concern as vehicle accidents are a major cause of overseas injuries and deaths. Things like poor or limited maintenance, limited fuel, poor roads and lack of standard safety are commonplace — this can be a time-consuming and expensive challenge,” Bush said.
  • Medical emergencies: Should a medical emergency happen, it can often become difficult to find the right health care in a hot zone. In addition, the availability and standards of health care may not match what is needed to help injured or sick employees.

Facing the Risks with Confidence

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There’s a mountain of risks that come with doing business in a hot zone. If your company doesn’t yet have a risk manager, it is time to invest in these critical services. Companies need someone with the experience to tell you what is possible. Someone who understands the risks and can think strategically to help you work around them, or avoid them altogether.

Enter Global Rescue. We are former Navy SEALS, Green Berets, Air Force Pararescuemen, Army Rangers and Intelligence Officers. Not only does our background include military experience in every major conflict from Desert Storm to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but we have enterprise-level security experience in the world’s most austere regions. And we bring that experience to bear as we help you plan and execute your trips.

Let’s get into the specifics of what our travel risk management services look like, from planning to execution and the unexpected events in between.

TIC Landing Page

Pre-Travel Planning

Each time your employees embark on business travel, it takes fresh analysis of the destination and the potential risks on the ground to set them up for success. A unique, deep-dive into the risks associated with each trip is possible with Global Rescue’s destination reports.  

Destination reports include event alerts, which “inform members of incidents in their area of travel that could affect their trip, cause an inconvenience, put them at risk of physical harm, or could potentially leave them stranded,” said Kent Webber, senior manager of Intelligence Products & Services at Global Rescue. 

Access to Global Rescue’s travel risk intelligence is available before, during and after travel. 

During Travel Awareness

“When Russia invaded Ukraine early this year, we had a group of university students studying in Russia,” Morris said. “We kept them and their supervisors back at home informed and advised as the conflict unfolded.” 

GRID℠ — Global Rescue’s proprietary, online intelligence system for businesses and nonprofits — gives business managers specialized insights into their employees’ travel. This information is crucial when venturing into a hot zone or, in this case, when your students suddenly find themselves in one. When employees are traveling, risk managers or HR managers “tailor the alerts they receive according to location, type of incident and severity, so they get the information they most need to see,” Webber said. 

Through GRID, businesses and organizations will be able to track their employees’ progress, keeping a finger on the pulse of the environment in their surrounding area, allowing them to act nimbly should an event occur.

“At first we thought Russia would not be as impacted,” Morris said. “But then the sanctions came, disrupting banking in Russia. Soon our clients wouldn’t be able to access their accounts. That was a telephone call: ‘Pack your bags. Get to the airport. Get out now.’”

When the Unexpected Happens

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The beauty of working with Global Rescue is that when the unexpected happens — and we’ve seen it all — we are ready with the help you need.

“Many competitors are fractured,” said Morris. “They have the intelligence but they sub out the medical. Global Rescue has medical, security and intelligence together, working side by side, all collaborating on the problem at hand to make sure we get the best possible outcome for our members.”

Our “one team” in-house approach equips us to get the help you need — fast. Global Rescue is the only company of its kind that does not outsource critical travel intelligence, medical or security services.

“This is very, very important to meet the needs of our corporate clients and consumer members,” Bush said.

When a member becomes severely injured or ill (including COVID-19), our medical operations team helps them get the care and transport they need.

“It could be from the side of a mountain to the nearest clinic or medical facility, where they will be evaluated, stabilized and we determine what follow-on care is required,” Bush said. “Then, if additional hospitalization is required, we get them all the way home.”

[Related Reading: A Stomachache Turns Deadly Serious in Liberia]

If a member encounters an unforeseen natural disaster, civil unrest or armed conflict and cannot evacuate on their own, our security operations team helps you get home — or to a safe location and then home.

“That’s the reactive part of what we do — meaning an incident happens, you call us and we help you get out of trouble,” said Bush. “But we don’t want you to get into trouble in the first place, so that’s why we also have all the pre-travel advisory and support services for before and during your travel. This is the proactive part of what we do.”

An example: When journalists from a global news media franchise were in Russia and Ukraine, Global Rescue assisted in the extraction of one journalist from Russia and provided security advisory services to the others in Ukraine to keep them safe based on troop movements and combat. As they filed their stories, they would check in with Global Rescue’s operations team to find out where they should — and shouldn’t — travel.

“Many people think of helicopters when they think of us,” Morris said. “But we’re just a phone call away to answer any questions you have, no matter how trivial they might seem.”


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