There’s no place like home, especially when you are hit with an unexpected injury or illness. So what’s a traveler to do when the unthinkable occurs away from home?
We were looking forward to our month-long trip to Panama earlier this year, when we learned that Caroline had broken her hip after taking a hard fall at a condo in Costa Rica.
Their first stop was the local clinic, where Caroline was immediately referred to the hospital in San Jose with a suspected broken hip. There she was x-rayed and offered an immediate hip replacement. But David and Caroline had another option. About four years ago, they were cruising in the Virgin Islands on their sailboat, when they happened to hear about someone who had used AirMed after a medical emergency far from home. “You look around,” David told me recently, “and there’s not much available in the way of medical care. So you think about what you would do if something happens.”
And although all the doctors in the San Jose hospital spoke English, were mostly American trained and inspired complete confidence, David and Caroline decided to go home, where they could be close to family and friends. At this point, Caroline was admitted, so she could receive care while waiting for her flight home.
The way David and Caroline both described what happened next sounded like something out of a training video where everything goes right.
After making the call to AirMed, what could have been a potential nightmare went like clockwork. First David found an orthopedic surgeon in Fort Meyers, who agreed to do the surgery. “I called AirMed back and told them what I’d done,” David recalled, “and they just took over from there. AirMed helped secure a receiving hospital, and that was it”.
At 12:30 AM, a little over 16 hours after Caroline’s fall, an ambulance arrived carrying a nurse and a respiratory therapist from AirMed in addition to the regular crew. All of Caroline’s records were handed over, she and David, along with all their luggage, were secured in the ambulance, and off they drove to the airport. Waiting there was a fully equipped international class business jet that had been converted into an air ambulance.
The five-hour flight, went smoothly, and Caroline was able to sleep. That was a good thing for several reasons. For one thing, the rest could only have done Caroline good. For another, five hours is a long time to be awake with a broken hip. The third, and probably most important reason, was that Caroline’s feeling of helplessness was driving her nuts!
Upon landing at Southwest Florida Regional Airport, the plane taxied to the Customs and Immigration area for private aircraft. An official boarded the plane, checked all the paperwork and cleared it to taxi to where an ambulance was waiting.
At the hospital, Caroline’s records were put into the right hands. She was then whisked through ER, on to an elevator and taken straight to her room. “We never had any bureaucracy at the hospital.” David marveled. “All the paperwork had been taken care of ahead of time.” At this point, AirMed’s job was done. And the cost to David and Caroline – zero; nothing; nada; zilch!!
Fast-forward a year-and-a-half. Caroline is fully recovered, and back to leading a full and active life. Simon and I are fully covered by our AirMed policy, and I really wish I had written this months ago. Fellow travel writer Patti Morrow has recently returned from having been treated for injuries after a serious car accident in South Africa. Perhaps Patti, and no doubt others, might have been spared having to recuperate far from home, family and friends. For those who love to travel, AirMed pays big dividends in peace of mind, and, like David and Caroline, will make you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot if you ever find yourself in need of their services.
“I couldn’t be anxious about much,” David said, “because every time I came up with an anxiety, it was handled. I think it was the best insurance I ever bought.”
Caroline summed it up even more succinctly: “Without the AirMed option, we couldn’t have come home.”
What Is AirMed, What Does It Cost and How Do I Get It?
AirMed is an international air ambulance service that can get you to your hospital of choice if you are injured or taken ill while traveling. Caroline and David’s experience was exactly as advertised on the AirMed website. Your annual payment covers other advantages, such as security advisories and transfer of mortal remains, so check it out for the entire list of benefits.
The annual cost for AirMed coverage is $265 for an individual, and the family plan, which Simon and I have, will set you back $385. If we’re lucky, we will never avail ourselves of AirMed’s services. If we’re not, we will have the best chance to get home with the least amount of stress.
Had we not heard Caroline and David’s story, we might have been somewhat skeptical, since it really looks too good to be true. And although our experience isn’t first-hand, our connection with AirMed gives us one less thing to worry about when we’re traveling.
For more information about AirMed, go to http://airmed.com/.