With more than a million members, you can imagine the number of calls at Global Rescue. Not every call is a distress signal from the top of Everest. Some questions, like, “my son was stung by a nonvenomous jellyfish” or “I have severe abdominal pain” arise during typical travel situations.

Global Rescue’s member services team — on the job 24/7/365 — triages calls and gets the medical questions immediately to the Global Rescue medical operations (med ops) team: the critical care paramedics, nurses and physicians on site at Global Rescue and offsite at Elite Medical Group, the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations, and Partners HealthCare.

“Not all medical cases require the deployment of a paramedic or a nurse. Many services can be provided remotely,” said Garret Dejong, senior specialist in medical operations at Global Rescue.

Medical advisory services are included with every Global Rescue travel protection services membership.

“Medical advisory services provide medical advice to travelers to decrease environmental risks and increase prevention of injury and/or infectious disease during travel,” Dejong said. “Global Rescue’s medical advisory service is here to answer questions and provide guidance for our members’ concerns.”

[Related Reading: More than Medevac — The Range of Global Rescue Services]

Ask Immediately

No request is too small. A spreading rash or an infected cut while traveling can make even a great trip feel uncertain and the next leg of a journey a stressful expectation.

“Call us whenever you have a medical question during your travels. Ask immediately before the situation or the symptoms get worse,” Dejong said, who provides examples of recent medical advisory services calls.

“Global Rescue’s medical operations team recently helped a member locate over-the-counter medication at a Tunisian pharmacy,” he said. “A member studying abroad in London required a last-minute vaccine before starting the academic term. Global Rescue located a private physician who administered the vaccine, enabling our member to continue their studies.”

Another Global Rescue member traveled with his family 110 miles from his New York City home to isolate during the pandemic. While no one in his family exhibited any COVID-19 symptoms, he called on Global Rescue to help identify local urgent care centers where he, and members of his family, could be tested for virus antibodies and infection. The Global Rescue medical operations team investigated the area, vetted multiple resources, and provided the member with the needed information.

“When you are ill and alone in a foreign country, finding yourself in need of medical care can be a daunting and stressful experience,” said Eliah English, a graduate student who became ill in Northern India. “Global Rescue alleviated all of my worries, and provided the best possible support that one could ever ask for.”

Cases Reviewed by Doctors

Traveling members should never wait to call Global Rescue.

“When people wait to contact Global Rescue, their health problem often requires more aggressive treatment, which can result in travel plans having to be changed or lifelong health consequences,” said Carlene Merola, senior specialist in medical operations at Global Rescue. “The medical operations team wants members to call with any medical concern as soon as someone has a medical concern or becomes ill or injured.”

There are many ways to contact Global Rescue for medical advisory services: an email, a phone call or a quick message on the Global Rescue Mobile App.

“Global Rescue members regularly call and send in pictures of cuts and rashes to monitor,” Merola said. “Each member’s case is reviewed by Elite Medical Group doctors and their guidance is used to advise the member on proper care, over-the-counter medication use and when an in-person assessment by a local doctor is required.”

If travelers wait to call until their cut becomes infected or rash becomes unbearable, they might end up losing more time on the trip and possibly risk their health.

“Some travel locations are very remote. The sooner we can monitor your injury or illness and determine how best to manage your concern, the safer it is for you,” Dejong said.

Medical Operations Supervisor Ralf Hilber agrees. “If people don’t call us in a timely manner, their condition may escalate beyond the capabilities of local medical providers and result in a longer, more difficult recovery,” he said.

He provides an example. “A member vacationing on a remote Island delayed contacting Global Rescue after experiencing a deep laceration to their hand and seeking care from a local medical provider. The member contacted Global Rescue after their hand became severely infected,” Hilber said. The member had to change their travel plans to seek advanced medical care on the main island. Weather further delayed travel to the main island, placing their health at risk. “Ultimately, Global Rescue was able to safely get the member to high level of care.”

[Related Reading: The International Fishing Trip That Got Away]

Healthy Travel with Global Rescue

The only time you should not call Global Rescue’s medical advisory services is when you are at home.

“If you’re at home, medical concerns should be addressed by local health providers,” Merola said. “Do not delay calling 9-1-1 or local emergency services for an emergency.”

Global Rescue members with TotalCare SM can call from home or from a hotel room. A TotalCare membership provides immediate access to a team of medical experts for real-time video consultations and treatment — right from your home. The med ops team facilitates TotalCare telemedicine consultations and second option services from Partners HealthCare.

Global Rescue’s med ops team also provides:

  • Hospital referrals to more than 200 international Centers of Excellence and over 5,000 clinics and care facilities
  • Medical intelligence services to help members plan travel Logistics management for field rescue and patient transfers to a higher level of care
  • Deployment of highly trained medical professionals to oversee treatment and coordination of patient relocation Pharmacy locater services
  • Security operations support. “Med ops offers a medical component to security services when it is needed,” Merola said.

It’s not often the medical operations team can’t answer a question, but “if we are unable to answer your questions or assist you, we will help you locate someone who can,” Dejong said.

A Global Rescue travel protection services membership means members can access 24/7/365 advisory services staffed by experienced nurses, paramedics and military special operations veterans. Global Rescue also has partnerships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations, Elite Medical Group and Partners HealthCare, the Harvard Medical School affiliate.