Nordic River launch boat (R) evacuates injured rower from Avalon rowboat (L) during Indian Ocean rescue led by Global Rescue on July 11. (Courtesy: LPGC ”Nordic River” “K”Line Ship Management Co., Ltd. [Tokyo, Japan])
Global Rescue has coordinated the rescue of a rower from the middle of the Indian Ocean after he sustained severe burns.
Ocean Row Events (ORE) crew member Shane Usher was successfully evacuated to the 590-foot K Line bulk carrier Nordic River on the morning of July 11. Earlier in the week, Usher had accidentally scalded himself while preparing food on the ORE rowboat, Avalon.
Global Rescue’s medical team confirmed that Usher’s burns were significant enough that an evacuation was necessary to secure proper treatment. The six-man and one woman Avalon crew was rowing non-stop across the Indian Ocean, having departed Geraldton, Australia, on June 11.
Global Rescue led the rescue and coordinated with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the Australian Rescue Coordination Centre to identify a vessel in the vicinity of the Avalon. Global Rescue led the operation from its operations centers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Thailand.
The Nordic River responded to the request to go to the aid of the rowboat. The carrier reached the Avalon successfully and transferred Usher by launching a rescue boat. The challenging operation, which was conducted in the open ocean, lasted nearly two hours.
K Line carrier (Courtesy: LPGC "Nordic River" "K" Line Ship Management Co., Ltd. [Tokyo, Japan])
Once Usher was on board the Nordic River, Global Rescue’s medical team managed the treatment of his burns, liaising with the Nordic River’s crew to oversee his care. The ship is expected to reach Australia on July 18.
The current Ocean Row Events mission is to row from Western Australia to Durban, South Africa, through nearly 5,000 miles of open ocean. The Avalon sustained only minor damage after the rescue and is en route to Africa.
Ocean Row Events' Avalon in the Indian Ocean (Courtesy: LPGC "Nordic River" "K" Line Ship Management Co., Ltd. [Tokyo, Japan])
MERS-CoV, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, belongs to the large family of coronaviruses which have been known to cause illness in both humans and animals. In humans, the coronaviruses can cause mild respiratory illness like the common cold to severe life-threatening illness such as MERS-CoV or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
MERS-CoV was first reported by the World Health Organization on 22nd September 2012; since then, all the associated cases globally have been linked back to the Arabian Peninsula. The disease first emerged in Jordan in April 2012 and was retroactively attributed to MERS later that year.
It is suspected that the primary source of transmission is from infected animals to people working closely with the animals, with limited human-to-human transmission. Camels are suspected to be the main animal source of infection but this has yet to be confirmed by health authorities and investigations regarding the source are ongoing. The incubation period is 2-14 days.
Countries with Lab-confirmed MERS cases
Countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula with cases:
--United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Countries with Travel-associated cases:
--United Kingdom (UK)
--United States of America (USA)
*Two patients were transferred to Germany for care
Who is at risk:
--Anyone visiting farms, markets, barns or places where camels are present
--Recent travelers to the Arabian Peninsula
--Anyone in close contact with an ill traveler from the Arabian Peninsula
--People with diabetes, kidney failure, chronic lung diseases or weakened immune systems
--Healthcare workers caring for infected patients.
Signs and symptoms:
--Shortness of breath
--May have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.
It should be noted that not all infected individuals will exhibit symptoms. Those who have traveled to the Arabian Peninsula should be cautious, regardless of their activities or outward symptoms.
There is no specific treatment for MERS-CoV infection. The current treatment regimen involves supportive care to alleviate symptoms and provide support to vital organ functions.
1. Observe good personal hygiene at all times.
2. Practice frequent hand-washing (before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet or when hands are soiled). Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
3. Avoid close contact with persons suffering from acute respiratory infections.
4. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
6. Avoid contact with camels and other live farm/wild animals. If there is contact, wash hands thoroughly with soap.
7. Adopt good food safety practices and avoid consuming unpasteurized milk and uncooked meat.
8. Get vaccinated against influenza and meningitis. While there is NO vaccination against MERS-CoV, vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal infection can help prevent these common infections that have symptoms similar to MERS-CoV.
9. If you are traveling to the Arabian Peninsula and have pre-existing chronic conditions, consult your doctor prior to your travels for medical travel advice.
10. Should you become unwell with fever and cough during or after your recent travel (within two weeks) to the Arabian Peninsula, put on a mask and seek medical attention immediately.
Temperature surveillance of passengers at airports
Airports around the world have begun temperature monitoring and health surveillance checks of passengers upon arrival.
To our knowledge, a number of major international airports have installed and implemented infrared temperature monitoring:
1. Middle East International Airports - Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Bahrain
2. Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin
3. New Zealand
5. Hong Kong
6. Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur
7. United Kingdom
8. Turkey – Istanbul
These infrared temperature machines will detect passengers with a high body temperature as they pass through the checkpoints. This helps the health officials at the checkpoints to quickly screen incoming passengers with fever (one of the signs and symptoms of MERS-CoV). However, not all MERS-CoV infected individuals will exhibit symptoms, much less a fever, rendering the temperature scanners not entirely effective. Nonetheless, temperature scanners are the method that health authorities are employing as a first line of screening. Passengers with a higher than normal body temperature will be further screened by health officials. In addition, the passenger may be asked to complete a questionnaire detailing recent travel histories and activities. Depending on the reply, the passenger may be required to be seek immediate medical attention at one of the airport clinics before being allowed to enter the country.
For anyone who has symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath prior to travel, it is advisable to seek medical consultation to obtain a fitness to fly memo or certificate. The memo or certificate should indicate any recent travels.
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Diseases
Page last updated: June 12, 2014
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ)
Page last updated: May 21, 2014
Ministry of Health, Singapore
Page last updated: May 16, 2014
David Koo at Everest Base Camp
In our “Meet the Team” series, we profile the people who make Global Rescue what it is. David Koo, based in Global Rescue’s Bangkok Operations Center, offers a glimpse into his role as an Operations Manager, the business culture in Asia, and his time in Tibet.
What is your role at Global Rescue?
I am working in the role of Operations Manager. I ensure that the Operations Center is operationally ready and runs smoothly. This includes ensuring the readiness of our Asian teams and providing case direction and oversight for active operations, assisting the Directors in making decisions, and providing leadership to the team.
What do you like most about your job?
My staff! I work with a talented multinational team. We learn from each other and from the experiences that each of us brings to the table. Furthermore, this job is unpredictable. Every request that comes in is different and sometimes you really have to think creatively to develop solutions.
Give an example of a recent mission you’ve handled.
Our Operations team recently managed a commercial stretcher transport from Doha (Qatar) back to the U.S.A. This transport involved coordination across cultures, and very long transport durations. A Global Rescue Senior Specialist paramedic was at the member’s side during the hospital stay, and then was with her all the way to her home hospital. The team handled the logistics from start to finish.
You are based in Thailand. What do you think is the greatest benefit to Global Rescue members in having a Global Rescue operations center in Bangkok?
I think it is very important for Global Rescue to have a presence in Asia. The business culture in Asia is very different from the West. We place a strong emphasis on first developing a relationship before a business deal. We like face-to-face meetings over a meal and having multiple interactions before we get down to business. For example, the annual deployments of Global Rescue staff in Nepal is a great example of how having “boots on the ground” helped to foster relationships and to ensure the best possible operational handling of cases.
What is the coolest place you’ve traveled to and what made it interesting?
I really treasured my three years in Tibet during which I trekked across the region, rode on top of a delivery truck from Tibet to Chengdu, stayed overnight in a nomadic tent, trekked to Advance Base Camp, and stood in awe of mount Everest with only one thought in mind: “People must be out of their mind to try to summit Everest.” Now I oversee the coordination of rescues from the mountain. Sometimes we circle back to where we started.
Have you seen the new Global Rescue travel alert feed on Twitter? It’s @GRAlerts and it covers security and medical events worldwide. Powered by our Global Rescue analysts, @GRAlerts is a great way to stay up-to-date on world events that may impact travel.
Here’s a sample of recent tweets from @GRAlerts:
Stay informed. Be sure to follow @GRAlerts on Twitter!
In an unpredictable world, it’s essential for travelers to be constantly aware of world events and potential threats to health and safety. To help Global Rescue members stay informed, we developed a new travel intelligence system called GRID. It’s a unique online resource, supported by teams of Global Rescue intelligence analysts, that provides detailed destination reports and real-time alerts of medical and security events around the world. The best part is that access to GRID is a benefit available to all Global Rescue members.
To use GRID, Global Rescue members simply log in to the Global Rescue site (www.globalrescue.com) and click the “Country Intelligence Reports” tab. (If you need your password, give us a call at 617-459-4200.)
Here’s the complete list of important travel information GRID offers:
Destinations – Detailed reports on countries of interest around the world.
Events – Real-time information and alerts on global events.
Country Risk Rating – Risk ratings on a scale from low to extreme.
Security assessment – Security risk overviews and advice for staying safe.
Health assessment – Health risks, travel health advice and required immunizations.
Entry and exit requirements – Visa information and import and export restrictions.
Important numbers – Country code, emergency numbers, and embassy contact information.
One particularly helpful feature is the email alerts for any region or country. Members can set the alerts for events of any and all priority levels, from low to extreme, and from any and all category of event (environment, health, infrastructure, unrest, or violence). Busy travelers can sort their events into different profiles to best keep track of the information.
Stay informed and travel safely!
Global Rescue paramedic (left) with Leslie Erickson
Every winter, 71-year-old Leslie Erickson takes a month-long trip to a new and exotic location. This February, Leslie was scheduled to escape the cold of Omaha, Nebraska, in favor of Ecuador for his annual vacation. However, unexpected health issues led to the use of his Global Rescue membership. “I never thought I’d need it,” Leslie said. “They did so many good things I can’t even think of them all. I get tears in my eyes.”
Within the first few days of Leslie’s trip, he began experiencing fatigue, difficulty breathing and nausea. He visited a local physician who recommended he go to Hospital Metropolitano in Quito, Ecuador. The treating physician found that Leslie was, in fact, dangerously close to entering a diabetic coma as he arrived at the hospital. Leslie was treated immediately with insulin and intravenous fluids in the intensive care unit. During his stay, he was examined by a cardiologist who determined that Leslie was also having his first heart attack, the first ailment he had suffered in 25 years.
While undergoing treatment via surgery and medication, Leslie was alone in a place where language barriers prevented anyone from explaining what was happening to him, let alone from caring for him throughout the symptoms and fears associated with his condition. Those feelings abated when Global Rescue, after learning of his situation, immediately deployed a paramedic to Leslie’s bedside.
“He made me feel very comfortable and had a good sense of humor,” Leslie reflected.
Global Rescue’s paramedic stayed with Leslie in Ecuador until he was sufficiently stable to travel back to Nebraska for treatment at his home hospital of choice, the University of Nebraska Medical Center. While Leslie was hospitalized, the paramedic was instrumental in explaining details of the treatment and care plan. He coordinated discharge with the treating team to ensure that all was in order – medications and full medical records to pass to the admitting hospital, for example – prior to discharge. Additionally, Global Rescue worked with the airlines to ensure that services were available during the trip home, and coordinated with customs and immigration both in Ecuador and the U.S. upon departure and arrival.
“He was a godsend,” Leslie recalled. “When he left, I was very sad. It felt like I left my best friend.”
Leslie continues on the road to recovery from his ordeal abroad. While he does not yet have future travel plans, Leslie is eager to take off to some distant location, his health permitting. He confidently states, “If I can, I will.”
Global Rescue travelers surely have learned many useful skills during their adventures. Appreciating cream and sugar yet being able to drink coffee black comes to mind, along with knowing how to sew a button or mend a pair of pants, or possessing a working knowledge of the half-life of a pair of Smartwool socks. Despite the obvious utility of those skills, another thing that is equally important is knowing what to pack in an everyday, travel-friendly first-aid kit.
All destinations have inherent differences from one another just as each individual traveler has his or her own unique differences. Evaluate your own personal needs and the parameters of your travel to find the items or kit that best suits you. An easy option is to look for a commercial off-the-shelf product. There are several high-quality kits out there that cover trips of different duration and are designed for the needs of the solo traveler up through the expedition group.
The alternative to a commercial product is to build your own. Global Rescue has tailored its own list of must-have items over the years, always including commonly needed items plus a few medicines. When possible, it’s best to try to use only items that serve more than one purpose, including medications. While it is impractical to pack for every single contingency, one can create a small, packable kit full of highly useful items that takes up very little space in your backpack. Most travel emergencies do not require a combat medic-style kit; quite the opposite. Blisters, minor soft tissue injuries (scrapes and cuts), orthopedic injuries (ankle sprains), and stomach ailments are some of the more frequently encountered issues.
The following is a list of items we recommend for every trip, whether you’re going to Switzerland or Nigeria. This is designed as a personal kit for individual use and the majority of the items can be carried in a small zippered pouch.
- Tweezers, fine point (hard to find a reason NOT to have tweezers)
- Tick remover (yes, a single-use item but very handy if needed and it’s nearly paper thin)
- Alcohol pads (eight is a good amount)
- Band-Aids (about a dozen)
- Blister pads (prefer the Band-Aid Advanced Healing, which work great and stay in place; carry a few of the regular and finger/toe variety)
- Gauze pads (a few small 2”x3” pads)
- Super glue (from minor skin tears, not ideal but works in a pinch, to getting a few more miles out of your shoes)
- Cravats (Carry two standard size triangular bandages. There is very little you can’t splint or bandage with two well-placed cravats. Too many other uses to list.)
- Ibuprofen 400mg (pain reliever, inflammation, minor fever reducer)
- Ondansetron 8mg ODT (anti-emetic; these dissolve on your tongue; great for nausea and vomiting)
- Cipro 500mg (gold standard for traveler’s diarrhea, unless you’re in Southeast Asia)
- Doxycycline 100mg (malaria prophylaxis, tick-borne disease, skin infections; a good multipurpose antibiotic)
- Pepto Bismol (chewable tablets; many indications)
- Antihistamine (a non-drowsy type like Zyrtec or Claritin; used for hives, itching, watery eyes, rash, runny nose, and sneezing due to allergies or the common cold. Secondary uses for motion sickness, anxiety, or as a sleep aid)
- Sewing kit (TSA approved for carry-on if needles and scissors are under four inches)
- Chapstick, with SPF (sunscreen for your lips, nose, ears; also useful on zippers or even hot spots)
- Iodine tabs (clean, treated water is a must)
- Small, emergency headlamp
- Duct tape (wrap about a meter around the outside of the kit)
- Consider an Epi-Pen if you or a member of your group have potentially life-threatening allergies
For trips that will take place in a more remote setting, you might augment this kit with other items, namely more medications and bandaging materials.
Prior to any trip, it is recommended that you consult with your physician to determine which medications are right for you. This can be done in conjunction with a visit to a travel clinic for vaccines and other destination specific advice. Despite the fact that many countries require medicines to be transported in their original packaging, several travelers take it upon themselves to repack the items to better fit in their luggage. Many of us are guilty of this but keep in mind that medicine not in the original packaging, especially prescription medications, run a greater risk of being confiscated.
It should be noted that a first-aid kit is not a substitute for proper first-aid training. Everyone has the potential to benefit from some type of first-aid training. Wilderness First-Aid (WFA) or the more in-depth Wilderness First Responder (WFR – pronounced woofer) are excellent options for travelers. These courses focus on providing care in austere locations with little support and finite resources. Improvising and using common on-hand items is highly stressed all the while adhering to sound medical principles. Check local outfitters and clubs for a course offering near you.
With concerns rising in regard to the threat of crime, riots and violence toward foreign travelers at the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Global Rescue medical and security personnel have developed a thorough review of key health and safety threats to those attending FIFA.
Global Rescue is offering medical advisory, intelligence, travel risk management and medical and security evacuation services to corporate clients and individual travelers. With Global Rescue’s proprietary GRIDTM travel intelligence system, Global Rescue members can access detailed destination reports including real-time alerts for FIFA-related and other global events.
Global Rescue excels at providing critical support during major international sporting events. We supported members at the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year, with confirmed threats and a recent history of terrorist attacks in the surrounding region. Global Rescue also provided medical and security support to members for the 2006 Turin Olympics and 2012 London Summer Olympics.
One of the largest international sports events ever hosted, the FIFA World Cup will be played over a month beginning June 12 at multiple sites throughout Brazil. The series of matches and related events is expected to attract over half a million foreign spectators and up to three million Brazilian spectators. While the country has been host to several major events—including sporting events—in the past, Brazil still faces a number of security concerns. Petty crime runs rampant throughout the country, and especially in large cities. Violent crimes, including murders, burglaries, and carjackings, are common.
While there is a low threat of indigenous or international terrorism in Brazil, civil unrest including protests against the 2014 FIFA World Cup have taken place in several host cities, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and have resulted in clashes between protesters and police. While public support for the ongoing protests has dropped since they began in mid-2013, the possibility of further protests or violence cannot be discounted, especially once the matches begin. Disruptive and sometimes violent strikes have also occurred in the lead-up to the World Cup, including by police forces.
Given the potential medical and security issues travelers may face, Global Rescue advises FIFA attendees to bring satellite phones to ensure communication capabilities in the event of an emergency.
Global Rescue advises travelers to stay alert to personal security at all times. There is a high rate of crime in Brazil. Armed robberies—of homes, businesses, banks, and even hotels—are common, especially in larger metropolises. Muggings and pickpocketing occur frequently, especially in tourist areas such as hotels, bars, beaches, transportation centers, and nightclubs, as well as in favelas.
Travelers should avoid withdrawing large amounts of cash at night or when it can be observed by potential attackers. When possible, use ATM machines in accepted hotels, banks, or businesses. Tourists should be on the alert for “express kidnappings,” in which a person walking alone is grabbed from the street, brought to an ATM, and made to withdraw all the money from their account.
Regarding transportation, the safest way of getting around is by privately hired or corporate vehicle. Although not as safe as a corporate vehicle, radio taxis are often preferable to taking public transportation. Radio taxis are known to be reliable and safe, while ordinary taxis are often fronts for scams, robberies, or assaults. Travel by personal car can be dangerous due to frequent carjackings, poor quality of road infrastructure, poor local driving practices, and a lack of enforced traffic laws.
When Mike Uboldi purchased a Global Rescue membership for his wife and himself, he was doing so in preparation for his many international trips. Despite his experiences in Spain, Argentina, and Africa, among other places, Mike never needed to call Global Rescue while he was overseas. He made the call to Global Rescue when his wife was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis while in the United States.
Mary Uboldi was admitted to St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. “My experience was extremely favorable. It was more of a medical consultation because she did not require medical transport,” Mike stated. “The Global Rescue team was fantastic -- very, very helpful and very willing to engage at any moment. They certainly gave me every indication that Global Rescue would arrange to have Mary transported back to Reno if her condition worsened, but that fortunately never occurred.”
“Your folks at Global Rescue were great,” Mike continued. “They contacted me every single day for a status report and offered to provide oversight if I needed it.” After a brief stay in St. Mark’s, Mary was discharged and the couple was able to return home. Mary is well on her way to a full recovery.
Mike was so impressed with how Global Rescue handled his case that he has recommended it to his son, another international traveler. “In any event, it was a great comfort,” explained Mike. “Global Rescue is a very good service. Little did I know that I might need to utilize it here in the States, let alone just 500 or 600 miles from home.”
Lebanese explorer and Global Rescue member Maxime Chaya is considered a national hero for his long career of adventures, providing inspiration to Lebanese youth to dream big and reach their goals. In 2006, he was the first Lebanese to climb Mount Everest, followed by skiing to both Poles. Chaya and two teammates set a new world speed record last summer for rowing across the Indian Ocean in under 58 days. Through Expedition RIO (short for Rowing the Indian Ocean), they became the first team of three to successfully row any ocean.
“I'm so happy we didn't have to make use of Global Rescue’s services,” said Maxime. “At one point, it was a serious option.”
Chaya spoke with us about his record-breaking trip and the forces which shaped his adventurous spirit.
How did you first become involved in rowing?
I rowed for my university, the London School of Economics, on an eight man team. That was back in my early twenties. The first time I heard about ocean rowing was in 2008 while I was training before a North Pole trek. It was at a training camp at Loch Tay in Scotland and there was a group of British athletes who were also training, only to row the Atlantic. The idea of ocean rowing was planted in my head back then.
What do you love about it?
It’s really just the adventure. And that can be anything -- just embarking on a new adventure is a great feeling. I haven’t really recovered from my last adventure and here I am already thinking about a new one. There comes a time when, if you don’t have an adventure to carry out or a ‘summit to climb,’ so to speak, then you feel that life is empty. For me, coming from Lebanon and with my ancestors being the Phoenicians who first roamed the seas several thousand years ago, that must have attracted me towards the ocean, and I suppose sooner or later, ocean rowing was inevitably going to figure on my agenda.
What was the greatest moment of the RIO trip?
Undoubtedly August 5th, the day we hit land. We were tired and I had lost about 12 kilograms of body weight. Our chart plotter hadn’t been working and it was no longer communicating with the autopilot. We had been steering somewhat manually and the last day it had to be completely manual. There were coral reefs, it was pitch dark, and my teammates were so exhausted they wanted to kill me, their skipper at the helm. I had to steer against the wind at one point when we made the final approach towards Cap Malheureux in Mauritius. Several boats had run aground at that spot and it reminded me of how many before us had failed, so close to the goal. When we reached land, I congratulated my teammates, then jumped overboard and hugged my daughter, girlfriend, niece and sister. I then tried to take the Yellowbrick [which was clocking our journey] a few yards inland so that the Ocean Rowing Society could stop the time and grant us the speed record. Trying to walk fast, I fell a few times. After two months at sea, without standing up too often, I had to learn to walk again.
You are involved not only in rowing but in climbing and skiing. How do you commit to so many different and impressive accomplishments?
What drives me is setting a goal that is seemingly impossible and working hard to achieve it. Success against all odds gives me -- and many others, I think -- a great sense of satisfaction. This is especially so when there are naysayers. When I decided to climb the Seven Summits, I wanted to prove to myself that I could have fulfilled my dream of becoming a professional athlete had I not come from a country at war. Whether it be climbing, skiing, biking or rowing, I enjoy laying out a plan and carrying it out in order to stand on that particular summit.
Which is your favorite record to hold?
As for choosing one accomplishment, it’s like having kids -- it’s hard to say which one you like more. Everest is Everest and the North Pole is the North Pole. However, the Indian Ocean success was like a gift from heaven, being able to finish so well and so quickly. My favorite, though, is to inspire the youth of Lebanon to pull out the athlete, the artist, the scientist, the poet, or whatever it is that resides within them. I hope that, if they see me succeed, they will realize that they too can fulfill their dreams and stand on the summit of their chosen ‘Everest.’
How do you feel about being considered a national hero? Do you, in part, do all that you do for your country?
I never thought my actions would lead to [being considered a hero] but now that the youth see me in that light, I need to act that way, whether I am or not. Nothing is easy, but nothing is impossible. A lot of our youth use the ongoing turmoil in my country [Lebanon] and region, as an excuse to be lazy. I try to inspire them to be the best they can be no matter what is going on around them.
Do you have any other big adventure plans for the future?
As I said earlier, though I’m still recovering from my last adventure, I am beginning to plan out my next one, but a lot of it is still unsure. I don’t want to reveal anything just yet. For sure, I will purchase a Global Rescue membership, and like with any coverage bought, I hope I will never have to use it.