pictured: Julie Cook with Global Rescue Senior Specialist paramedic Justin Romanello (l) and Supervisor Kyle Bertrand (r).
The roads of Italy lead through thousands of years of history, presenting spectacular views and faithfully following the contours of rugged mountain terrain, while providing the ultimate challenge and potential for peril to motorcyclists.
“We knew going on this trip that those were the most dangerous roads to ride on in the world,” recalled Julie Cook. “That’s why we purchased Global Rescue. Thank God we did.”
It was the summer of 2015. Julie and her husband Eric were enjoying a tour through Europe on a new BMW R1200R as part of a small group led by a European motorcycle tour, where Julie is employed. “It’s a nice job perk, having the chance to take a tour that the company runs all over Europe. This year, we were riding through Slovenia, Czech Republic, Germany and Italy,” Julie said.
Then, on one of Italy’s tiny, winding roads, Julie and Eric’s motorcycle adventure took a sharp turn for the worse. Eric was driving and Julie was seated behind. It took only a split-second and suddenly the motorcycle fell off the road and flipped down the mountainside.
“I knew instantly that my leg was broken,” said Julie. “I could feel it and I heard it. I heard it break. I couldn’t move at all. Eric was able to move around – although he was in pain.”
Help on the way
The tour leaders acted swiftly and called for a local ambulance. “Eric pulled his membership card out of his jacket and called Global Rescue,” Julie said. He told them that both he and his wife were being transported to a hospital in Tolmezzo, Italy, for evaluation. “Both Eric and I immediately thought, ‘Thank God we have Global Rescue.’”
Upon initial assessment at the hospital, Julie was diagnosed with a lower right leg fracture. She was admitted to the hospital and scheduled to undergo a surgical repair of her leg the following day.
“It was difficult not being able to speak any Italian,” recalled Julie. “Once we were able to speak with Global Rescue, we knew that they had checked out the hospital and were doing everything possible to take care of us. It was such peace of mind.”
Global Rescue immediately deployed two paramedics to Julie’s bedside.
“I remember Eric saying that Global Rescue would be here soon and would begin to figure out a plan to get us home. Knowing that two Global Rescue people from the States were coming to help us get through this really helped me stay strong.”
When Global Rescue’s paramedics arrived, Julie greeted them with smiles and tears.
“It was a very happy moment,” said Julie. “All of my worries and all of the unknowns disappeared. The Global Rescue team took control of the situation and started making a plan to get me safely and comfortably back home. I will never forget how wonderful they were and how much they did to make my transport comfortable.”
Julie continued, “I felt so much relief once they explained how everything was going to happen, from beginning to end. They were on top of everything, including coordinating with hospital medical staff and sending my medical records to the Global Rescue medical team. When you’re injured, you just can’t deal with everything on your own. There’s no way my husband, who had torn ligaments in his knee, could have dealt with everything that happened.”
Julie with the Global Rescue team in Italy
Distraction by iPad
Boredom set in quickly for Julie with no landline in the hospital room, no international calling plan, no TV in the room and no air conditioning.
“When you’re going through that type of pain and you don’t have any way to distract yourself, it’s very difficult. One of Global Rescue’s paramedics said, ‘I have my iPad and I have some movies on it.’ He lent me his iPad, which was just the nicest thing. I was able to watch movies and take my mind off of everything for a while. If those Global Rescue guys had any way to help, they were there to help. They did everything they possibly could.”
The Global Rescue team accompanied Julie and Eric home. “I was happy to learn that I wasn’t going to have to fly home in a normal seat. They upgraded me to first class,” said Julie.
Once at home in New York, Julie faced a long recovery following multiple surgeries. She was instructed not to put any weight on her leg for three months.
“I had broken my tibia, my fibula, and I had a rod going down my leg and pins and screws holding it together. I had broken off the right hand side of my knee.”
Although confined to a hospital bed in her living room, Julie maintained a positive outlook. “I’m typically super healthy and active. Nothing gets me down. I’m always on the go and considered the healthy one. We have a wonderful family that keeps me company and brings me coffee. I’m feeling better now that this last surgery is over, knowing that I’m finally on my way to healing and getting better.”
Julie is unsure if another motorcycle trip will be in her future. “My husband probably would go,” she said. “We knew going on this trip that those were the most dangerous roads to ride on in the world. That’s why we purchased Global Rescue. Thank God we did. I’d probably still be in Italy because there was no way we could have afforded to be transported the way we were. We were lucky that we’d asked ourselves beforehand whether coverage was worth it. You just never know what can happen.”
“I cannot imagine how much pain and how many problems we would have had to endure without the help of Global Rescue,” said Julie. “We are so happy with Global Rescue. I will be recommending Global Rescue to all of our motorcycle tour clients.”
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