Every year, journalist Victoria Lautman travels to India for a few months. During one trip, accompanied by her 19-year-old son, Victoria and her son both became ill with separate and pressing illnesses that required support from Global Rescue.
“It was my son’s first time to India. He had been there two weeks, and it was a pretty packed two weeks,” explained Lautman. “He was sniffling a lot and it got worse and worse. I was running around trying to treat it myself, getting cold medicine from Indian pharmacies. Looking back, that’s when I should have called Global Rescue. The day we had to take a six-hour drive, he said, ‘Mom, I really think I need to see a doctor.’ So just before we got into the car, I called Global Rescue.”
Lautman continued, “The Global Rescue team provided me with a great deal of information, including instructions to reach an emergency room and the identity of an emergency medical technician.”
Lautman’s son was diagnosed with a sinus infection. He was prescribed multiple medications, including a “miraculous inhaler” that helped him breathe instantaneously.
Unfortunately, soon after her son’s recovery, Lautman caught a virus. Again, she called Global Rescue for medical advice. “Tests were ordered but showed nothing,” she said. “After a week, I was fully recovered and recommending Global Rescue to friends.”
“As a parent traveling pretty much anywhere abroad with a child, whether they’re a baby or 50 years old, to have absolutely no idea what to do to help them, particularly in a place like India, is daunting,” said Lautman. “You want to make sure you’re going to the right places because there are a lot of choices. In the first minute that I made contact with Global Rescue, it was literally like a giant boulder was taken off my shoulders.”
We would like to share more of your frequently asked questions along with our responses. Do you have a question about Global Rescue membership? Add it in the Comments below.
Q: How do I know which membership plan is going to work for me? Do I need a 365 day plan to be covered all year?
A: The price of an annual membership is determined by the duration of a single trip abroad. For example if you purchase the “up to 45 days per trip” annual membership, then the duration of any one trip cannot exceed 45 days. However, you may take as many trips as you like during the year that are less than 45 days in duration. If your travel will exceed 45 days, there are additional membership plans available. Or if you are going on a short trip, memberships are available for as short as 7, 14, or 30 days.
Q: How do I contact Global Rescue in an emergency abroad?
A: In case of emergency, members should contact our Operations Centers at +1-617-459-4200, or email email@example.com.
Global Rescue requires two-way communication capabilities in order to successfully perform an evacuation. We always recommend traveling to remote locations with a satellite phone and extra batteries. Not only do satellite phones enable two-way communication, but we can often track the member’s coordinates through his or her phone.
Q: Do I need to submit an itinerary or my medical history before I travel?
A: Submitting your travel plans to Global Rescue is not required; however, in the event of an emergency, it can be very helpful if you send them to us prior to travel.
U.S Ski Team athlete and Global Rescue member Sophie Caldwell had a breakthrough season in 2014. She placed sixth in the Sochi Olympics Freestyle sprint (the only U.S. female ever to make the top six at the Olympic Games in cross country skiing) and recorded her first individual World Cup Podium (only the second female to achieve that). Global Rescue caught up with Sophie before she headed out on her upcoming ski racing season:
What are one or two things that you are currently focusing on in training?
My main focus for the summer has been working on leg strength. I've done a lot of running, no pole, and one pole skating. I was recovering from an elbow injury and wanted to work on improving my skating this summer, and I think one pole skating can be very good for leg strength and technique. I've also been trying to do a lot of core strength and leg strength in the gym.
What is your plan for early season racing post-injury?
My follow-up appointment is coming up, so I think a lot of when I begin to race will depend on what the doctor says. I'm currently planning on heading over to Europe with the rest of the team, but I plan on sitting out the first races in Finland and focusing on getting some on-snow training. Hopefully I will be using both poles and can start racing in Lillehammer in early December.
What are you most looking forward to this upcoming season?
I'm really looking forward to World Championships in Falun this year. It's always fun to race in Scandinavia because of the ski culture there. Cross country skiing is huge over there, so fans get pretty excited when the races come back home. I'm also looking forward to exploring some new venues that I haven't been to yet!
What are your goals for this season?
It's tough to make a lot of concrete goals right now because I really don't know what to expect after my injuries this summer. I'd like to begin the season with no expectations and just be happy to be back racing again. I'd love to get back to being comfortable qualifying in sprints and become more consistent in the rounds. I would also like to improve on my distance racing this year. I've accepted that it will take some time to build back my upper body strength, but I think I can get it back with some work! Patience will be key this winter, but I'm feeling fit and strong (at least my legs are).
What do you find is the biggest challenge when traveling all winter long?
The biggest challenge for me is being away from my family and home for so long. Luckily, my family will be coming over to Europe for Christmas, so I won't have to go too long without seeing them. Traveling to a new place each weekend is really exciting, but sometimes all I want to do is be home in my own bed. There are a lot of tricks we've picked up that make hotel rooms seem homier and just make travel in general easier. For example, I usually bring a photo album from home and a stuffed animal. Having a supportive team of great friends makes life on the road a lot more enjoyable.
How do you prepare for international ski trips?
Packing for an international ski trip really isn't very different than packing for a domestic ski trip. We only have one suitcase and we're still primarily skiing, so my suitcase looks about the same. When I know I'm going to be gone for a long time, I usually throw in some extra staples like peanut butter and candies that I miss from home and know I will appreciate after being on the road for a while.
It's reassuring to know that wherever I am in the world, I'll always have the protection and support of Global Rescue. There are a lot of things we need to adjust to when traveling to Europe for the winter and having Global Rescue, a medical and security service we're familiar with, adds a level of comfort that is sometimes difficult to come by.
What is the best strategy for packing skis for flight travel?
Down jackets! I take my biggest jackets and wrap them around my skis for extra padding. I also tape my skis together because they don't break as easily that way.
While enjoying a family vacation on a beach in southwestern France, Carolyn Lanzetta experienced a parent’s worst nightmare. Suddenly her three-year-old daughter, Cate, had a full-blown seizure. The toddler fell down, started convulsing and vomiting, and became unconscious for several minutes.
Cate was rushed to the local hospital. Her bloodwork and a CT scan came back normal, but doctors recommended that Cate undergo additional testing before the Lanzettas took the long flight home to New York City.
“Obviously, I was very nervous,” said Carolyn. “In the middle of the night, everything rushed through my mind: How were we going to get her home? Should we fly to Nice to get these tests done? Should we just go back to Paris and find a way to do it, or go to the closest hospital?”
The next morning, Cate had more seizures. The Lanzettas immediately took her to the children’s hospital in Bordeaux, where she was admitted.
Carolyn contacted Global Rescue. “I said, ‘I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what’s happening but I might need your help to get my daughter home if this gets worse.’”
The Global Rescue Operations team immediately began monitoring Cate’s treatment, conferring with the hospital’s doctors about appropriate tests and arranging for Cate’s records to be sent to Global Rescue.
“The Global Rescue Operations team was in touch with us on a constant basis. It was a huge feeling of relief that we weren’t alone, that the Global Rescue team was making sure that Cate was being treated at the level we would want her to be treated, that she was getting the right tests, and that the medicine was the correct course of action.”
Soon after, Cate was diagnosed with a severe, rare form of epilepsy. “Immediately our priority was how to get our daughter home,” said Carolyn.
Global Rescue deployed one of its critical care paramedics to fly to Bordeaux to meet the Lanzettas, care for Cate, and provide medical support on the journey home. The company handled all of the travel arrangements for the family.
Arriving at the hospital, Global Rescue’s paramedic met with the neurologist to review the medications and confirm checkout information. The next morning prior to the flight, he met the family for breakfast, during which Cate had several seizures. “He was able to see the seizures and was taking notes constantly on everything,” said Carolyn.
Then the journey home began. “I was sitting next to Cate, and the Global Rescue paramedic was right behind us. Immediately after takeoff to New York, she started having seizures, one after another. I was having an absolute heart attack. Here we were, stuck on this plane, and in an hour we were about to head over the ocean. Then there would be no turning back. It got to the point where I couldn’t sit next to her. It was really, really scary. I kept looking at our paramedic and he said, ‘It’s all right, she’s okay, she’s going to be fine.’ He was so calm, saying, ‘I have enough meds. We can get her back to New York. She could be having seizures the entire way and we’ve got enough medication to get her back.’”
Cate’s seizures finally subsided after 90 minutes and she was okay after the long flight.
“Had Global Rescue’s paramedic not been on that flight, I surely would have gone up to the flight attendants and told them that we had to get off the plane. There is no way I would have been able to get through that without Global Rescue’s medical help to say, ‘I can take care of it.’”
Carolyn continued: “It was a huge relief just to know that I didn’t have to be concerned about administering the medicine, administering it the correct way, making sure she was all right, if she ended up choking—all of those fears that go through you when your child is having a seizure.”
Landing in New York, Global Rescue’s paramedic accompanied the Lanzettas in the ambulance.
“When we arrived at the hospital, we learned that Global Rescue had provided the hospital with all of Cate’s medical forms and all the insurance information. We arrived and they greeted us with, ‘Hi Cate, how was your flight from Paris? Here is your bed.’ It was the most amazing feeling. We made it and somehow we are going to figure it out. Back in the U.S., they were able to treat Cate’s condition much, much faster than it would have been treated in France. The seizures would have just gotten worse and worse and worse, and more frequent as we had gone on.”
Carolyn praised the Global Rescue paramedic. “He was fabulous, just the nicest person to be traveling with and so engaging with the whole family, including my six-year-old daughter. He was so calming and gave us such a sense of confidence coming home. He followed up regularly to see how Cate was doing. It was so above and beyond what his duties were.”
Reflecting on the experience, Carolyn said, “If your child has a cold, you can figure it out and there are things you can do. But all of a sudden, something happens that’s new, that’s frightening. What do you do? Honestly I have not stopped talking about Global Rescue to everybody I know since we got back. Friends and family who travel with kids say, ‘How do we even travel without having Global Rescue?’”
Cate is doing very well with medication and a special diet. She has not had a seizure since leaving the hospital in New York.
“Having Global Rescue there was like having a big layer of comfort around you. It was just an entire other level of care and comfort that I could not have dreamed of. I knew that Global Rescue was looking out for us and taking care of anything we needed,” said Carolyn.
“There‘s no way we would have gotten through it without Global Rescue. I surely will not go anywhere out of this country without using Global Rescue. There’s just no way.”
The Lanzetta family
Every year, more women are making the decision to travel solo. In a poll of U.S. women by Booking.com, 72% responded that they are enthusiastic about solo travel and had traveled on their own for work or vacation. As the trend in solo travel by women continues, Global Rescue would like to share these tips:
1. Bring a communication device that works. In addition to bringing your cell phone (which you should make sure works wherever you’re headed), a satellite phone or messaging device can be extremely important in remote areas of the world where there are no cellular networks. They can also save your life in an emergency or disaster where cellular networks become overloaded or disabled.
2. Do your research. Read maps before venturing out to a new place and be conscious of areas to avoid. Get detailed information on your destinations and find out which neighborhoods have incidences of crime. Women should also be aware of major international hotels or key public locations along your itinerary where you can go if you feel unsafe.
3. Purchase medical and security evacuation coverage. If you need to get out of a tight situation, your insurance company isn’t going to do it. If you get hurt and need to be medically evacuated, or need to escape civil unrest, having coverage can save your life (and tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars).
4. Alert friends and family to your itinerary. Do this before departing for your trip. Let people know when they should expect to hear from you next. Register with the U.S. State Department before your trip here: https://step.state.gov/step/.
5. Brush up on practical safety tips. Avoid telling strangers that you are traveling alone. Try not to establish patterns such as leaving or returning to your hotel at the same time every day. Maintain “situational awareness” and avoid walking alone at night. Do not stay on the first floor of a hotel or hostel. When using public transportation (train, bus, or ferry) in an underdeveloped country, if possible, ride in the highest class available. Other simple preparations include: carrying a whistle; carrying a small flashlight; carrying or wearing comfortable shoes; and carrying an ID, a small amount of cash, and a credit or ATM card on your person and not in your purse in case of theft.
As the world focuses on Ebola, cases of another serious disease are on the rise around the world. Dengue fever, which includes several variations including dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, has increased dramatically this year. In Malaysia, for example, dengue fever cases have seen a threefold increase compared to the same period in 2013, according to the country's health ministry. There have been more than 80,578 reported cases of dengue fever throughout the country as of 18 October.
Cases have grown especially fast in China as well. In the southern province of Guangdong, the number of reported cases jumped from 11,867 on 30 September to 21,527 cases on 6 October. As of 3 November, more than 43,000 cases have been reported.
With dengue fever also on the rise in the Americas, Mexico, and near the Texas border, it is imperative to be informed about the disease before traveling to any regions where you may be at risk.
Dr. Phil Seidenberg, Associate Medical Director with Global Rescue, shared some of the basic facts about dengue fever.
Like malaria, the disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. However, there are several key differences between the two diseases.
“Dengue fever is a mosquito-transmitted illness, but it is viral, not parasitic. It is caused by a different mosquito than the type that causes malaria,” Seidenberg said. Dengue-carrying mosquitos are more likely to bite during the daytime instead of at dusk and dawn, as the malaria-carrying insects do, and are even found in urban areas. There are currently no medications that can be taken to prevent dengue fever, so mosquito prevention is critical.
If you have contracted dengue, the illness will surface in approximately 4-7 days from the initial mosquito bite.
Seidenberg outlined the most common symptoms, including:
· -- Muscle or joint pain
· -- Fever
· -- Headaches (particularly behind the eyes)
· -- Rash
Those who develop a more severe form of dengue fever may also experience:
· -- Bruising and bleeding (particularly at pressure points, such as around waistbands)
· -- Nosebleeds
· -- Gastrointestinal bleeding
“The more severe form of dengue fever is referred to as dengue hemorrhagic fever, which causes these symptoms,” Seidenberg explained. “With the more severe form, the platelet count drops, people bleed, liver enzymes go up, and people get a lot sicker.” Adults are more at risk for dengue hemorrhagic fever than children, who often get much less sick once they’ve contracted the disease. Those who have been exposed to or have contracted dengue previously are much more at risk for this form of the infection. Seidenberg points out that dengue hemorrhagic fever is not the same type as some of the African hemorrhagic fevers, such as Ebola.
Typical treatment for dengue fever includes treating the virus symptomatically, with hydration and Tylenol (not ibuprofen or aspirin) for normal cases. In the case of hemorrhagic dengue, patients should seek hospital care to be monitored and given fluids. Unfortunately, there is no way to treat the actual infection itself. Statistics vary, but approximately 80% of those infected experience fever and flu-like symptoms following an incubation period of 3 to 14 days. These symptoms eventually resolve provided the patient rests and gets plenty of fluids. The remaining 20% of patients can become severely ill, with symptoms including very high fevers, rashes, vomiting, intermittent consciousness and bleeding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dengue fatality rates range from 1%-10% depending on the individual and the timing and appropriateness of the treatment rendered.
If you’re traveling, check-in with Global Rescue, review updated dengue information in our GRID travel intelligence system, and consult the CDC website for locations with high rates of dengue here.
Global Rescue member Steven Huskey was on a hunting trip to the Canadian Rockies when suddenly things went very, very wrong.
“During a steep, snowy descent through the Canadian Rockies in pursuit of an elusive Big Horn sheep, I found myself sliding down the mountain toward a cliff. As I went over the edge, I instinctively grabbed for a sapling. It was like a made-for-TV-movie.”
With help from Global Rescue, Huskey lived to tell the tale of his ordeal.
“[As I fell,] the momentum of my weight and my pack dislocated my right shoulder, breaking the socket and tearing pretty much every tendon and ligament including my bicep. After finishing the descent with my arm duct-taped to my body and an extremely agonizing horseback ride to camp, I was able to call Global Rescue on the satellite phone,” said Huskey.
The Global Rescue operations team launched into action, making plans for a field rescue and evacuation to transport Huskey to a hospital to receive medical care. With significant snowfall forecast for the following two days, the helicopter rescue was set for the first break in the weather.
“First, they worked with my guide to ensure I was stable and gave him warning signs to monitor. Second and most impressive, they coordinated with my fiancée, the local medical personnel, the outfitter, the aircraft as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other local authorities,” said Huskey. “The snow and terrain prevented a ground rescue team from reaching my location, so as soon as the weather broke, Global Rescue had a helicopter en route. Their coordination and persistence was impressive.”
The helicopter transported Huskey to the hospital, where he was evaluated, admitted, and treated for his right shoulder dislocation. Global Rescue’s paramedics kept in contact with him throughout his ordeal to ensure he was receiving proper care until he was discharged.
Huskey’s advice: “If you are a back country adventurer, your Global Rescue membership should be at the very top of your packing list.”
According to the latest update by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 5 October, a total of 8,033 (probable, confirmed, and suspected) cases and 3,865 deaths from the Ebola virus have been documented in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Some cases have also been reported in Nigeria and Senegal.
Late September yielded the first case imported to a non-African country, after a Liberian national traveled to Dallas, Texas. He succumbed to the virus on 8 October in Dallas. Most recently, a healthcare worker in Madrid, Spain, contracted the illness while caring for an infected patient transported to Spain for treatment. Both the U.S. and Spain cases did engage in contact with the public while symptomatic, and intense contact-tracing efforts were enacted by both nations.
In recent months, authorities in multiple nations have introduced a wide range of preventative measures in response to the deteriorating Ebola outbreak, including border closures, flight bans, and stricter screenings at country gateways. Individual airlines have also implemented their own restrictions.
U.S. authorities announced on 8 October that travelers from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone will undergo mandatory screenings for the Ebola virus at certain domestic airports. The measures will include questionnaires as well as temperature scans. The checks will be implemented at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD), Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
Global Rescue has air assets in Africa to perform air ambulance evacuations. Response time depends upon many factors, including weather, local asset availability, location, and local laws. However, we can and will assist in supporting our members with any and all services that are medically appropriate, and which fall within the guidelines of the incident and destination countries regarding quarantine and infectious disease transportation. Global Rescue will provide these services within the capabilities of our air providers, and the medical resources available locally, regionally, and at the member’s destination. For members with Ebola or suspected Ebola, Global Rescue will transport pursuant to all required quarantine and infection control procedures and restrictions, which may delay or prevent transport.
Nico Monforte, 2014 Junior Worlds Skicross team member
In April 2014, Nico Monforte was warming up for the freestyle Junior World Championships with the U.S. Ski Team in Valmalenco, Italy. After a fall, Nico hurt his shoulder and suffered severe fractures to his left tibia and fibula. Nico wrote to thank Global Rescue for assistance during his ordeal:
“While I was in the hospital in Sondrio, Italy, the U.S. Ski Team doctors called Global Rescue to assist in locating a better facility for surgery and care. Global Rescue aided in my transfer to a hospital in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and oversaw the rest of my medical needs and travel home.
“Since the first call was placed in Italy to Global Rescue, there were nothing but positive and helpful interactions. The Global Rescue critical care specialists were always informed and up-to-date concerning my situation, putting my medical needs at the forefront of every call. When my mom, Johanna Monforte, placed a call from back in California to try to coordinate a trip to see me in the hospital, she was immediately linked with the Global Rescue specialist who was working on my case. The specialist updated my mom and made her feel comfortable with the situation. Throughout the whole experience, the Global Rescue team made me feel that I was where I needed to be, and that everything was being done to the highest of standards to ensure a full recovery.
“I am very happy with the whole experience dealing with Global Rescue. The services provided by Global Rescue helped me get to a facility that could cope with the severity of my injuries. Currently my health is good. My recovery is on track and the doctors are happy with my progress. I am a long way from 100 percent, but am progressing every day and headed in the right direction. We are shooting for a return to snow in December and I’m hoping to return to competition late next season.
“I would highly recommend Global Rescue to any of my friends and family, or to anyone who is traveling. The services I received from Global Rescue helped get me the care I needed to make a full recovery. I am proud to be a member of the U.S. Skicross team and couldn't be happier with the Global Rescue partnership with the United States Ski Association.
"Thanks again for all your help!”
John Bates during a fishing trip to New Zealand
Kiritimati, also known as Christmas Island, is one of the most remote places on earth, lying in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With many distinctive species of fish in the surrounding oceans, Christmas Island attracts anglers from all over the world.
Global Rescue member John Bates of Billings, Montana, traveled to Kiritimati on a much-anticipated fishing trip over the summer. Late one evening, he fell seriously ill at his lodge. His symptoms included weakness, high fever, an inability to walk, and difficulty breathing.
Dr. Gordon Cox, a retired pathologist traveling with Mr. Bates, contacted Global Rescue for help when Mr. Bates was unable to do so. Because of its remote location, Kiritimati presents challenging communication issues. Communication on the island is very poor, with the only access provided via the island’s “communications center,” and even then in limited fashion.
The Global Rescue medical team determined that Mr. Bates’ complex medical history meant that he was particularly sensitive to the symptoms he was experiencing, with a life-threatening risk of sepsis, in a remote location where proper care was unavailable. It was clear that Mr. Bates’ condition necessitated evacuation from the island to receive needed care.
With no time to waste in obtaining the best care for Mr. Bates, Global Rescue physicians recommended an immediate medical evacuation from Christmas Island to a hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, for medical treatment. It was determined that this was the closest, best hospital for treatment under the circumstances.
Following a brief hospitalization where he received stabilizing care, Mr. Bates was able to travel home to Montana. He made it home safe and sound, praising the efficiency of the medevac team and thanking Global Rescue for its role in his medical care.
Mr. Bates had the following to say about his ordeal:
“First, I would suggest to the tour company I was traveling with, which books trips to Christmas Island, that they mandate that anyone going to fish in a remote area like Christmas Island sign up with Global Rescue. You’re nuts if you go someplace like Christmas Island and don’t have Global Rescue in your back pocket.”
“Second, I’d suggest that someone in your group investigate the communications technology available at any destination. When in doubt, have a satellite phone, acquired specifically for the purpose of the trip, to provide a clear line of communication in case of emergency.”
“It was Dr. Cox, in fact, who had suggested Global Rescue to me. I looked at the information and thought maybe I should join up. I’m very grateful that I did. I’m here, and I’ve got all of my limbs. I’m glad I had you guys. Having seen what you can do, I’m a believer.”
“Global Rescue’s follow-up system certainly makes you feel you’re being tended to. It becomes apparent that they’re on top of things, and that’s important.”
Dr. Gordon Cox (L) with John Bates (R)