If you're planning to travel internationally this holiday season, you can help reduce the medical risks associated with traveling abroad. Simply follow these travel tips below. Safe and healthy travels!
- Have the ability to call for help, know how to call for help, and know where you would want to go for help. Outside of the U.S., dialing “911” does not work. Have a way to call for help: a local cell phone or SAT phone. Know how to dial that number based on international calling configurations, and what number to call for emergency medical services.
- Complete a pre-travel physical. Make sure any chronic medical conditions are stable. Avoid traveling too soon after surgery since complications may surface three to six months after some surgical procedures. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Some countries you will need to provide proof of vaccination to enter the country. Be sure your travel medical provider prescribes any necessary travel medications in adequate supply.
- Know your health insurance policy and service coverage. Know in advance whether your plan covers medical bills if you are hospitalized while traveling internationally. Do you have medical evacuation coverage for emergency medical transportation, and trip cancellation insurance in case you miss your flight due to a medical emergency?
- Have a backup plan to pay for emergency care if needed. There is a chance some international medical facilities will not work with your health insurance provider. Travel with a credit card or have another way to access funds quickly. Some facilities will turn you away at the door regardless of the nature of the medical emergency if you cannot provide a guarantee of payment or some type of financial deposit for services rendered.
- Bring your own pharmacy. There is no guarantee that you’ll find a pharmacy around the corner. Travel with basic over-the-counter medications and a small first aid kit. Pain relievers, medications to control a fever, antacids, stool softeners, allergy medicine, antibiotic ointment, eye drops, decongestants, cold medicine, band aids, yeast infection treatments and sunscreen are just a few items we take for granted that can be obtained easily at drug stores at home. Bring any necessary travel medications with you, such as malaria prophylaxis and traveler’s diarrhea treatment. Do not assume you will be able to source these medications in other countries. Any medications purchased abroad may not be subject to the same manufacturing standards and quality control you expect at home.
- Bring 2x the amount of daily medication needed. Travel plans can be delayed, flights cancelled, and pill bottles can spill. Refilling a prescription while traveling internationally can be challenging and having the flexibility to accommodate a few extra days of travel reduces the risk of this happening. If you have a prescribed medication you use “as needed,” be sure to bring it.
- Research local hospitals or travel clinics before you travel. Know the best facilities available to you in a specific area. If you are a U.S. Citizen, the U.S. Embassy based in your country of travel is a useful resource in providing this information. You can also register your dates of travel with the embassy, which can further help in an emergency.
- Be familiar with health concerns relevant to the location. There are general health advisories, health risk assessments and food and water safety precautions specific to different regions. Your travel medical provider should be able to review any individual health concerns specific to you and your medical history and your itinerary. Be sure you have the necessary information to prevent health risks associated with your particular travel itinerary.
- Follow the same safety practices you would use if you were at home. Wear your seat belt, if it is available. Use a helmet when riding a bicycle, moped, scooter, or motorcycle, or if skiing or snowboarding. Be sure to drink plenty of (safe) water. Be mindful of your body’s needs in extremes of temperature: have adequate clothing and gear in the cold and seek shade and cooling opportunities in the heat.
- Never travel without a Global Rescue membership. Medical problems can threaten your life at the worst possible time, when you’re away from home, far from friends, family and support. Global Rescue medical membership includes medical evacuations from anywhere in the world to your choice of home-country hospital, any time you are more than 160 miles from home and need hospitalization. Global Rescue excels at Field Rescues for medical emergencies requiring hospitalization in the event you are in a remote location and cannot get to a hospital on your own. Membership includes 24/7 medical advice and support from world class physicians at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
We are pleased to announce the winners of the Global Rescue “In the Spirit of Adventure” Photo Contest 2013:
1st place: Casa del Arbol, Ecuador, by Monica Mueller
Story Behind The Picture...
While backpacking in South America after graduating college, I started a social enterprise www.ArtfulVenture.com, which is an entire adventure in itself. We were creating a community mural for our nonprofit partners, and decided to take a break to explore more of the town of Baños, Ecuador with our local friends. After a steep, windy drive to the top of the city, we climbed out of the car and sprinted up the hill to greet a herd of cows and the most magical tree house I had ever seen. Surrounded by misty clouds, with a rickety old staircase and creaky swing, we literally felt like we were swinging in heaven. This shot reflects my quest for adventure because through Artful Venture's online boutique, we aim to change the world.
A Judge’s Perspective:
"This is a well composed and beautifully executed image portraying a tree house, where so many of us begin having our adventures. As children, it is high in the branches of trees we build forts, begin exploration, and imagine overcoming all forces against us. This tree house is a work of art in itself, placed on the left side of the frame, it's balanced with the fog which creates a sort of blank canvas for the rest of the adventurous life to be lived."
2nd place: Polar Power, Repulse Bay, Nunavut, by Joe Bunni
Story Behind The Picture...
A shot of a life time that you cannot miss no matter what. I felt confident with this female and she was in no way aggressive. Actually she came incredibly close, the first time putting a paw on the lens and the second time her nose. She was looking at her reflection in the lens like many mammals do!
A great picture can be taken anywhere, even in one's backyard but when it's a dangerous situation it obviously adds some spice and adrenalin to the moment, something that I'm always looking for whether it's a bear, shark, or elephant.
A Judge’s Perspective:
"A fun shot that shows the bear from a totally different perspective. The angles and lines of the water in front of the bear also make this image 'work.'
N.B. Amazingly, Joe took this shot while swimming in the freezing water, wearing a dry suit!
3rd place: Surfer, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia, by John Maher
Story Behind The Picture...
This shot was taken in a remote region of the Mentawai Islands, 100 miles off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. I was in the Mentawais for a month working as a volunteer medic and surf guide for one of the local surf resorts. Most of the waves in the area break over outer reefs which require a boat to access. The isolation makes logistics tough, but allows for beautifully clear water.
This trip occurred while I was transitioning from a professional surfer to a photographer, so with my surfboard, I brought a camera and water housing on the boat everyday with anticipation of capturing unique moments such as this one.
This image is special to me because it was taken at a very fickle wave. In fact, I waited the entire month to finally score favorable winds, tides, and swell direction for it to work. Additionally, lucky timing of a set wave breaking, and a surfer riding just close enough to the wall of the wave to be recognizable as he passed by me, all coinciding within a few minutes of the sunset in a rainforest region, is a very fortunate occurrence.
Having the correct camera settings while shooting underwater in low light without strobes or a flash is tricky, so I held my breath until I was able to get the camera out of the housing later that evening to see if the shot was exposed correctly!
Dodging waves breaking over sharp coral reefs in dark water, while volunteering as a medic at one of the most isolated and wild regions surfers have recently begun exploring - that encompasses my spirit of adventure!
A Judge’s Perspective:
"The colors and light in this shot are great. I also always love an image that shows the world from a totally different perspective. It is never easy to shoot great underwater shots like this."
Thank you to our panel of judges and to all who were inspired to share your spirit of adventure with us!
Enjoy a selection of outstanding "In the Spirit of Adventure" photos here.
For a parent with a young adult child traveling overseas, stress can sometimes outweigh the pleasure of knowing that your child is experiencing wonderfully different cultures firsthand.
Through a year-long fellowship, a young woman was traveling independently to South Africa, India, Northern Ireland, Chile, Germany and Greece. Her mother, Laura Stanley Duffy, insisted on a Global Rescue medical and security membership for her.
“With Global Rescue, I felt like I was buying peace of mind,” said Duffy.
The joys of travel were instilled in her two daughters from an early age. “We live in a small house so it was easier to give travel than stuff. But it made my daughters unafraid to travel anywhere, which can be stressful for me.”
Her first daughter was enrolled in the Traveling School, a non-profit organization which takes high school girls overseas for a semester. Through the school, she was covered with a Global Rescue membership for her travels to Namibia, South Africa and Botswana.
Duffy’s second daughter, traveling independently for one year, was healthy until she reached India. After three months there, she contracted dysentery and could not shake it. She lost nearly 15 pounds in three weeks.
“She was alone and far from home,” said Duffy. “As a mom, you’re truly relying on your child’s judgment. A child often assumes you’re overreacting. But people get into trouble when they’re dehydrated.”
Global Rescue was contacted for advice on hospitals in India. The company, which conducts extensive research on and has relationships with medical centers of excellence around the world, confirmed that the young woman was going to the right place for care.
“It was calming to me to hear another professional who knew the landscape and could say my daughter was in good hands,” noted Duffy.
After two hospital visits and two rounds of medicine, the young woman was on the mend by the time she was ready to leave India.
“I got paid back all year long,” said Duffy. “If your kids are traveling, you need to know about Global Rescue.”
Global Rescue has been deeply involved in the Himalaya, having advised and evacuated hundreds of members over the years. The close of trekking season in Nepal offers an opportunity to consider the tremendous growth in the region, and what it might portend for the future.
Since 2006, the number of visitors to Everest has doubled. The Himalaya now attract over 100,000 trekkers and climbers each year. Helicopter-based services in Nepal have also increased dramatically. In an emergency, a helicopter evacuation from Everest undoubtedly can save your life. Unfortunately, some tour operators and helicopter companies seek financial gain through kick-backs from arranging non-emergency helicopter evacuations for climbers and trekkers.
In an earlier post this year, we highlighted an article by the British Mountaineering Council on corruption in the Nepalese helicopter rescue industry. The BMC article cited weak regulation and a willingness by some to defraud insurers to make quick money from a rescue.
A new article by the Alpine Rescue Service, one of the medical emergency assistance providers based in Nepal, addresses the same issue: certain guide companies and tour operators requesting helicopter evacuations in non-emergency situations for their own financial benefit. In one scenario, tour operators or trekking guides attempt to persuade inexperienced trekkers that helicopter evacuation is essential, even at the slightest hint of mountain sickness. Fearing for their health and their lives, trekkers feel compelled to take the advice given. They are advised to contact their insurance or travel assistance companies to guarantee payment, often for outrageously inflated prices. In another scenario, operators and guides go so far as to build into the itinerary in advance a helicopter evacuation simply to save time. It is not difficult, with the right contacts, to produce documentation supporting a medically-justified but unnecessary evacuation.
If this trend continues, these inflated costs for fraudulent evacuations will result in the unfortunate consequence of considerably higher fees for medical emergency services for climbers and trekkers in the Himalaya.
What can Global Rescue members planning Himalayan travel do?
· --Know the facts about altitude sickness. In many cases, descent is the first recommended course of action.
· -- Research tour operators and guide companies before you travel. Understand their perspective on helicopter evacuations.
Unnecessary evacuations in Nepal, while orchestrated by a small number of operators, have the potential to damage the climbing and trekking industry. Global Rescue has long-standing partnerships with many of the leading guide companies who have expressed frustration with the situation and who simply want to provide clients with reasonable evacuation options for bona fide medical emergencies.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for information.
Global Rescue is honored to provide support to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) at the 2014 XXII Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, running February 7-23, 2014.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has partnered with Global Rescue since 2006. Global Rescue provides life-saving medical advisory, evacuation, security and other critical emergency services to skiers, their families and USSA’s elite athletes. Over the years, Global Rescue has performed dozens of missions for USSA and supported the teams at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and Vancouver, Canada, respectively.
“With Global Rescue providing the highest level of medical and security services for USSA, we’re well-prepared for Sochi,” said Tiger Shaw chief operating officer of USSA. “Our athletes can focus on delivering exceptional performances with the knowledge that Global Rescue is at the ready.”
"We are honored to continue to serve the USSA,” said Dan Richards, CEO and founder of Global Rescue. “We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our athletes, both at Sochi and year-round."
We’re pleased to unveil the 20 finalists in the Global Rescue “In the Spirit of Adventure” Photo Contest.
Take a look at the finalist photos below or here on our Facebook page A big congratulations to the finalists! Winners will be announced in early December.
Thank you to all who submitted your photos. We truly appreciate your taking time to share your “spirit of adventure” with us. Your adventures are inspiring. Keep it up!
Today marks the final day to submit a photo for our “In the Spirit of Adventure” Photo Contest. We continue to be utterly amazed by the images submitted by the Global Rescue community. Here are a few more below. See what we mean? To view even more photos, see our Pinterest board.
We’ll be announcing finalists shortly so stay tuned!
Photo courtesy of Joe Stock
While climbing in Bolivia earlier this year, Global Rescue member James Kesterson suffered a painful toothache. Kesterson, a frequent traveler on expeditions with Stock Alpine, was concerned with how much worse the pain might get at a higher altitude, not to mention putting his team in jeopardy.
He recounts his experience and shares his thanks with Global Rescue:
“We had been in Bolivia climbing for about 10 days when I developed a toothache. It was the first time in my life that I experienced that much pain. A doctor who was with us prescribed lots of ibuprofen but said that I probably should take an antibiotic. We had some antibiotics with us but he was unsure of which to give me. We called Global Rescue.
“We were at 14,000 feet planning to head up to 21,000 feet. Global Rescue doctors directed me to take neither antibiotic that we had since both were for stomach illness. Instead, Global Rescue directed me to get some penicillin. They assured me that, if I could tolerate the pain with the ibuprofen, I should be fine at a higher altitude. No penicillin could be located where we were so we climbed on, doing well on our trip, although the ibuprofen seemed to make me very tired.
“Upon returning home, my dentist told me that something had upset my root canal and that amoxicillin should take care of it. Of course, that’s basically the same advice that Global Rescue gave me. It seems to have worked. I completed my prescription last week and have no pain now.
“Global Rescue did a great job at the time and in the follow up after I returned home. By the way, one of my climbing friends had a small skiing accident last winter and Global Rescue was very responsive with his sprained wrist.
“I am very pleased with Global Rescue’s service. Thanks for being there.”
“Overwhelming” describes the response to our “In the Spirit of Adventure” Photo Contest. Do you have a photo that epitomizes the spirit of adventure? Send it our way along with a one-sentence caption by November 15, 2013. See prize details here.
Here’s a sampling of entries we’ve received to date. Enjoy!
This year, British explorer Levison Wood will be the first to attempt to walk the entire length of the River Nile. Global Rescue is supporting the epic journey by Wood, who is also founder of expedition company Secret Compass. We spoke with Lev to learn more about what motivated him to undertake such a fascinating challenge.
How did you decide to undertake this journey?
I’ve always been passionate about Africa and have spent a lot of time there, especially in East Africa. In 2010, I drove the length of Africa and followed the course of the Nile in a 4x4. After some research I discovered that no one had ever completed the journey by foot. I wanted the biggest challenge of my life and found it.
Were you always interested in travel of this nature?
I have been travelling roughly since I left home at the age of 18. After university I hitchhiked overland from the U.K. to India and when I joined the army I took great pleasure in organizing challenging expeditions for my soldiers. It was a natural progression to lead expeditions professionally.
What are your biggest concerns for the trip?
Safety is clearly an issue. There are dangers from the terrain, the environment, the wildlife and the people. But the biggest concern is simply being in remote areas for such an extended period of time.
Do you have advice for others considering such adventurous travels?
Make sure you know what you are doing. Build a reliable team and think about what can go wrong. But remember there is never a perfect solution; sometimes you just have to get on with it and see what happens.
Have you had any “close calls” in your prior travels during which a Global Rescue membership (for medical or security evacuation) would have been useful?
Quite a few, ranging from team members getting really ill on expeditions -- I had a guy get malaria in the jungle of Sierra Leone once -- to some tricky political situations. I've been held at gunpoint more times than I can remember. On one of my first travels I got stuck in Nepal in the middle of a coup d'etat. My passport was confiscated and I had to spend a week hiding in the hills whilst the country went into anarchy. Fortunately though I've not been seriously Ill or injured myself, despite a couple of very close calls involving road accidents in both Afghanistan and Sudan. Global rescue coverage would certainly have been helpful then if the worst had happened.
Once Walking the Nile is completed, are there other journeys you have on your list to accomplish?
The world is a big place and I'll never stop travelling and exploring. I still want to visit Papua New Guinea, and much of South America is on my watch list.