Emergency medical repatriation: when time is of the essence

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When illness or a severe injury occurs while someone is travelling abroad, it’s often possible for the patient to receive medical attention in a local hospital. There are many countries that have excellent healthcare systems and can adequately respond to all the patient’s needs. But it’s not true everywhere – even within the borders of Europe. When a patient’s condition is serious and the right treatment is not available locally, they may need an emergency medical repatriation to receive better care at home. But how fast can an international patient transport be arranged when someone’s long term health, or even their life, depends on it?

Emergency medical repatriations

The EMS team was contacted by the family of a young man who had suffered a severe spinal cord injury while travelling in Albania. At the time, the injury had left him paralysed from the chest down. To receive the right care, his family felt that it was absolutely imperative that he be brought back to England for surgery as soon as possible. 

In situations like the above, we know that time can make all the difference and that patients and their family need a quick and professional response. When someone contacts us, we make it our aim to respond promptly, because we understand how urgent your situation is, and we will never keep you waiting unnecessarily for answers, quotes or confirmations. We are available 24/7 and always on standby. 

What happens next?

When you contact us, we will listen to you so we understand you situation as best we can. A qualified medical coordinator will help you think through your options and answer your questions. They also advise of the best and safest way to bring your loved one back home. This will always be determined by the patient’s condition, the level of medical assistance needed and the distance to be covered, and will most likely be carried out by long distance road ambulance, a private air ambulance or on a commercial flight with a medical escort. Once you confirm that you would like us to carry out the medical repatriation and secure our service by making payment, our office team get to work. They will take care of every detail from assembling the right medical team with the right specialisms to accompany the patient, and  liaising with hospitals on both ends, to handling medical reports and arranging any necessary travel documents.  

A team is dispatched to meet the patient, so times as soon as the same day. Upon arrival they will carry out their own independent examinations to ensure it’s safe to transport the patient. They can work with the patient to prepare them for the journey and make sure they are fit-to-travel. They accompany the patient every stage of the journey and can continue to provide them with ongoing treatment, so that care is not interrupted, as well as respond to any changes or eventualities. 

All the ambulance and aircraft we use are modified specially for emergency medical repatriation and all carry ICU equipment and life-saving technology, to ensure the patient’s safety. Once the ambulance arrives at the destination hospital, the team will stay will the patient until a successful handover has taken place. 

The road to recovery

For many people who suffer serious injury or illness abroad the road to recovery can be long, but it starts with the right care and treatment. In the case of the young man with the spinal cord injury, he was repatriated to the UK, where he underwent two major operations to save his life. Following those, he recovered all movement and sensation, and the doctors were optimistic that he would make a full recovery. His brother writes, “We truly believe if it was not for EMS 24/7, my brother wouldn’t have been in the same situation he is today”. 

Contact

If you are in a medical emergency abroad and require medical repatriation, please don’t hesitate to contact us – even if it’s just to get a clearer idea of what’s possible and what’s involved. We are here to help and will always get back to you as soon as we can.

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