Why Global Rescue?

Global Rescue provides worldwide advisory, field rescue and evacuation services, in both medical and security emergencies. 

  • Field Rescue from point of illness or injury, no matter how remote
  • Evacuation to the home hospital of choice
  • Services provided up to $500,000
  • 24/7 advisory services from medical and security specialists
  • Medical oversight from specialists at Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Paramedics deployed to member's bedside
  • Memberships start at $119

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Return to Nepal: Honeymooners in 2015 earthquake now support small business there

  
  

Nepal, Brittany Myers, Global Rescue, evacuation

 Brittany and Noah Myers, on top of Gokyo Ri the day before the 2015 earthquake

After a life-changing journey to Nepal in April 2015, Global Rescue members Brittany Myers and her husband, Noah, will return to Nepal in April to visit the rural fair-trade carpet and cashmere weaving factory they raised money to support after last year’s earthquake.

“My husband and I experienced, firsthand, the beauty and unwavering generosity of the Nepalese people,” said Brittany. “But, tragically, we left behind a country devastated by the earthquakes. While this story is no longer front page news, much of the country is still in need of help. Many organizations have been involved in the efforts to rebuild Nepal, including clean water access, rebuilding homes and schools, and addressing other critical needs.  In all our research, we were not able find any that specifically aim to help small business, a crucial component of a sustainable Nepali economy,” she said.

In partnership with a small running studio in New York City, and generous donations from an elite running coach, one of the city’s finest DJs and a handful of local small businesses, the couple organized the Small Business Helping Small Business benefit run in late 2015.  They committed 100% of the proceeds to Chinchilamo Handlooms in the Sindhupalchowk District, one of the worst hit areas in Nepal.  The factory, which employed up to 200 people in the area, collapsed and many employees had to relocate their families to find work. The money raised will go toward reconstruction efforts and job creation for these local artisans. 

“While our benefit was small in scale, we are excited about the great potential there is in connecting a thriving small business to a small business in need in a country in crisis," said Brittany. "We continue to be in touch with Chinchilamo Handlooms, and are considering ways to expand the Small Business Helping Small Business idea into year two.”

Read our original account of the couple’s 2015 Nepal trip: Honeymooners caught in Nepal earthquake turn to Global Rescue


Global Rescue participates in Migrants in Countries in Crisis Initiative (MICIC)

  
  

 Global Rescue, Brittany Myers, Noah Myers

Honeymooners and Global Rescue members Brittany and Noah Myers in Nepal the day before the 2015 earthquake

In December 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland, Global Rescue participated in a two-day event designed to gather expert advice of private sector employers, recruiters, and service providers on the development of guidelines and effective practices to better protect and assist migrant employees caught in countries experiencing conflicts or natural disasters.

Today, we live in an age of increased mobility with over 232 million international migrants worldwide. As a result, when conflict or natural disasters hit, migrants are often present in the crisis-stricken country and affected by the crisis.

Those words lay the foundation for the Migrants in Countries in Crisis initiative (MICIC), launched by the United States and the Philippines to improve the ability of States and others, including the private sector, to better prepare for, respond to, and protect the rights and dignity of ‘migrants’ caught in countries experiencing a conflict or natural disaster. MICIC defines ‘migrants’ as non-citizens or non-nationals in the country experiencing a crisis.

The MICIC continues:

While many migrants are resourceful and resilient in the face of such situations, a variety of factors create particular vulnerabilities for migrant populations, with limited means to ensure their own safety. In some cases, migrants may be trapped, and unable to leave the crisis area. Some migrants may be unable to access humanitarian assistance or unwilling to leave, due to fear of the loss of their jobs and the source of their family’s income.  In yet other contexts, migrants may need to seek refuge across borders in adjacent countries. Due to a lack of frameworks in these situations, international migrants may fall between the cracks of existing protection mechanisms and responses.

Global Rescue's Jim Chiacchia served as a panelist in the session, Private Sector as Service Provider, moderated by Alfred Boll of the U.S. State Department. The discussion ranged from specific measures that can be taken to plan for the needs of migrant employees in potential crisis situations, including what kinds of transportation services are needed to get migrants in crisis situations to safety, and how emergency health and medical services can be best identified and provided in a timely and cost-effective manner. 

MICIC highlighted the story of Global Rescue member Brittany Myers, who was honeymooning in Nepal in 2015 when the earthquake struck. Following her safe return home, Myers was inspired by her experience to raise money for small business needs in Nepal.

Frostbite: What you should know

  
  
frostbite, Global Rescue, medical advisory

Skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, and ice fishing are among the many pleasurable outdoor activities that Global Rescue members enjoy in the winter months. Common to all of these pursuits is exposure to cold, which can be dangerous for a number of reasons, and frostbite tops the list.

What is frostbite?
Simply put, frostbite is any injury to body tissues caused by exposure to extreme cold. It will most often affect extremities (fingers, nose, toes, ears) first. This is because of a bodily process known as vasoconstriction. When exposed to cold, the body will draw warm, oxygenated, blood away from less-essential parts like the extremities and concentrate it into the body’s core. This allows key systems such as the heart, lungs, and brain to stay warm and oxygenated for as long as possible, helping you survive. The effect of this process, however, is that extremities now lack warm, oxygenated blood. This leaves them vulnerable to freezing. The situation can be exacerbated by alcohol and drug consumption, caffeine, dehydration, constricting clothing, cotton clothing, and certain medications.

How do I know if I have frostbite?
Similar to heat burns, frostbite is divided into three levels of severity. These include frostnip, also called superficial frostbite; partial thickness, or second degree, frostbite; and full thickness, or third degree, frostbite.

Frostnip is the first stage of frostbite. It affects the outermost layers of skin and tissue. Most people who have spent a significant amount of time outdoors in the cold have experienced it. Characterized by pale or red skin in the affected area, frostnip can also be identified by a prickly or numb feeling with skin pliable to the touch.

Partial thickness frostbite is the second stage of frostbite. This stage is more difficult to identify. It affects tissue deeper into the dermis and may present in a variety of ways. Reddened skin can turn white, greyish blue, or appear wax-like. Some ice crystals may form on the skin as well. Oddly enough, the skin may start to feel warm to the victim during this stage. After thawing, small blisters and localized swelling may form with associated mild pain.

Severe, or full thickness, frostbite, is the final and most serious stage -- when frostbite has penetrated into the tissues, muscle, and even the bone in the affected area. Numbness and a loss of all sensation characterize this stage. Large blisters (and swelling) will form on the skin after rewarming and be very painful and sensitive. Later the affected area may turn black. Serious cases may require the amputation of the affected extremity.

I have frostbite. Now what?
For frostnip, relatively little treatment is needed. Gentle re-warming of the affected area will be satisfactory.

For partial or full thickness frostbite, further intervention is needed. First, the victim should shelter or be sheltered from the cold. Medical help should be sought immediately. Treatment includes soaking the area in water not exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If the area is hard to the touch, do not press hard on it. If blisters form, do not pop them. (If you are in the field and no hot water or active rewarming is available, skin to skin contact is the best way to rewarm an area. Place bare hands or feet in an armpit, groin, or against the abdomen. For hands, you can do this yourself. For feet, you will need a partner). Then gently wrap the area in sterile gauze to prevent infection and gangrene.

Be very careful using a campfire, chemical or fuel powered hot packs/hand warmers, or camp stoves to rewarm areas. The ability to perceive temperature and pain will be severely diminished, and burns (and worsening cellular tissue damage) can easily occur even with cheap hand warmers. A burn on top of frostbite will severely complicate recovery.

Be warned: the re-warming of frostbitten areas will be extremely painful, even incapacitating. High grade analgesics would be needed to control it. Any frostbitten body part should be handled with extreme care to avoid further tissue damage. If the frostbite is on the foot, and the person must walk to safety/rescue, the foot should not be re-warmed before reaching safety as the individual will no longer be able to walk once it is thawed. Regardless, the most important thing is to get medical assistance as soon as possible. Do not expose the affected area to cold again after re-heating. It is critical that the frostbitten are not allowed to refreeze! This could cause serious tissue damage.

Monitoring for signs of hypothermia is also crucial during a frostbite incident because the two often go hand in hand. Signs of hypothermia include drowsiness, severe shivering, surges of warmth, and slurred speech. Any altered mental status encountered in a cold or wet environment should instantly arouse suspicion of hypothermia! Also remember, if someone is wet, due to immersion in water or sweat from overexertion, hypothermia can occur even in relatively warm temperatures (60 degrees Fahrenheit or less). If you or someone in your group is immersed in water, or is beginning to show the first signs and symptoms of hypothermia, it is time to self-evacuate and/or call for help.  Remember that some of the initial signs and symptoms of hypothermia include a marked change in personality and attitude and a loss of judgment.  The brain loses its ability to coordinate and balance the body, speech is interrupted, and finally fine-motor skill is lost.

How can I prevent frostbite?
Contrary to popular belief, the temperature does not need to be extreme to present a risk of frostbite. Any temperature below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), or exposure of skin to intense wind and moisture, can result in frostbite. That being said, staying warm, dry, hydrated, and prepared is the best way to prevent frostbite.

Wearing the right clothing is also essential. Know the weather and be prepared with extra layers and proper outerwear.  The best way to stay warm when out in the cold is to wear light, non-constricting, layered clothing that will allow for easy blood flow to your extremities while also providing the insulation that your body requires. If your hands or feet become cold while you are outside, stop and fix this by adding or changing layers before you develop frostbite.

Need medical advice regarding frostbite? Contact the Global Rescue Operations team for medical advice as soon as possible at 617-459-4200 or ops@globalrescue.com.

On the ground in Nepal: Global Rescue’s Andy Fraser

  
  

Andy Fraser, Nepal earthquake, Global Rescue  

Andy Fraser

In the wake of Nepal’s earthquake and avalanche, which left thousands dead and hundreds of climbers stranded on Everest and other mountains, Global Rescue has spent the last 5 days responding to more than 100 requests for help.  As one of the first responders on site in Lukla, our personnel triaged more than 200 humanitarian cases arriving by helicopter from the Mt. Everest region, working to support Nepalese government and other aid workers handle the very large number of cases.

We have deployed teams of paramedics and former military special operations personnel to Nepal and have executed over 45 rescues, evacuation and support operations.

Global Rescue Senior Specialist and paramedic Andy Fraser was preparing to provide support during the Himalayan climbing season and was among the foreigners in Nepal who experienced the earthquake.  Andy, who works out of Global Rescue’s Bangkok Operations Center, specializes in remote area work and recently spent six months working in Zambia helping to train police, fire brigade and safari guides in wilderness trauma medicine. Andy previously served as a member of the Solo Rapid Response Unit with the London Ambulance Service, and has worked throughout in the Middle East and China.

Below Andy shares some thoughts on being one of the first responders in the midst of the devastation.

Tell us about your experience immediately after the quake struck.

I was in Lukla at first light on Sunday morning, triaging sherpas and climbers being brought down from Everest. It was relentless, lasting approximately six hours, with helicopters constantly bringing in casualties. I triaged in the helicopters and policemen stretchered the victims into the airport building which we had been commandeered and made into a field hospital.

What types of injuries were you seeing?

The injuries were traumatic in nature due to the avalanche – lots of fractured legs, arms, backs, necks and head injuries. Dr. Monica from Lukla hospital and I ran the operation. We triaged approximately 200 cases in 24 hours.

How is morale for those involved in the rescue effort, yourself included?

I can’t speak for others, many who are just arriving in the last day. For me, it’s just heartbreaking for the sherpas after last year.

 

 

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Global Rescue engaged in rescue operations following Nepal earthquake

  
  

Following the worst earthquake to strike Nepal in almost a century, Global Rescue is actively engaged on the ground conducting rescue operations for clients and members impacted by the tragedy.

The earthquake resulted in hundreds of deaths, injuries, and at least one reported avalanche on Mount Everest. The quake struck on Saturday shortly before noon local time with an epicenter approximately 50 miles from the capital of Kathmandu.

Global Rescue is deploying additional personnel to join its team already in Nepal for the Himalayan climbing season. Following the quake and avalanche, we are communicating with and providing intelligence to clients and members in the region to ensure their safety and are actively coordinating air resources for evacuations.

“This tragedy is heartbreaking, particularly after the events of the 2014 climbing season,” said Dan Richards, CEO and founder of Global Rescue. “The scale of the disaster is very large and our operations teams are working around the clock to ensure the safety of our clients and extract those who need it to safety.”

Global Rescue’s trained personnel have been conducting rescue and evacuation missions in Nepal every season for more than a decade. Global Rescue typically performs dozens of helicopter evacuations in the Himalaya each year. The company regularly sends its medical and security teams, including former military special operations personnel, critical care paramedics and physicians, around the world to personally respond to members facing emergencies.

To request assistance, please contact Global Rescue Operations at 617-459-4200 or operations@globalrescue.com.


Q&A with the American Alpine Club’s Phil Powers

  
  

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Phil Powers, Executive Director of the American Alpine Club
(Photo courtesy of the American Alpine Club)

American Alpine Club Executive Director Phil Powers has led dozens of expeditions to South America, Alaska and Pakistan's Karakoram Range, including ascents of K2 and Gasherbrum II without supplemental oxygen. He made first ascents of the Washburn Face on Denali and of Lukpilla Brakk's Western Edge in Pakistan, as well as the first winter traverse of the Tetons' Cathedral Peaks.

Phil recently spoke with Global Rescue about the upcoming Himalayan season, the AAC’s new campgrounds, and the tremendous rise in popularity of climbing gyms.

Q. The climbing season in the Himalaya is under way now through the next few months. What are your expectations for this season?

A. In big ranges like the Himalaya, the combination of extreme objective hazard and human ambition lead to a huge potential for accidents. Samuli Mansikka, 36, and Pemba Sherpa, 35, were just killed this week while descending from a successful summit of Annapurna; the season is clearly under way. Global Rescue is very much aware of the propensity for accidents during this pre-monsoon season. 

Q.  What are the upcoming seasons for other popular climbing spots?

In addition to pre-monsoon in the Nepal Himalaya, there is also a season in the fall after the monsoon retreats. The Karakorum Himalaya, which is further from the influence of the Indian Ocean, has a summer season like North America. Most of the climbing in Alaska happens in late spring and early summer. In South America -- places like Aconcaqua or Patagonia -- climbers are active from December through February. Antarctica has a similar season.

Q.  Tell us about the AAC’s new campgrounds. Have you seen a marked interest in camping by AAC members across the country?

We are just opening our newest at the gateway to the Shawangunks in New York. The Gunks campground has been a long time coming and we are really excited to finally open it. The campgrounds are for everybody (though AAC members get a discounted rate) and, yes, they are well-used.

Q. How is the popularity of climbing gyms impacting the climbing community? What things should people keep in mind as they transition from indoor to outdoor climbing?

A. Gyms are the biggest single trend facing climbing today, maybe ever. The Climbing Business Journal states that there are over 300 major gyms in the U.S. with 40 more opening this year. We estimate that about 2,000 people sign releases at those gyms every day. In other words, around 2,000 people are at least giving climbing a try every day. Some will stick with it and some will go outside. People get pretty strong and confident in a gym setting very quickly and making the move to outdoor climbing presents very real dangers. At the AAC, we are developing lesson plans and courses in partnership with regional clubs, like the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC), so we can meet this need. Interestingly, whether the accidents we see have to do with improper knots, lowering mistakes, or rappel errors, a majority of them have to do with not double-checking the systems you use. Climb with a partner you trust, communicate well, and check each other at every step. And of course, remember to get your Global Rescue membership before you head out – I know I will.

 

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Global Rescue supports The Heroes Project

  
  

Heroes Project, Everest, Global Rescue

USMC SSgt. Charlie Linville during the 2014 Everest attempt (courtesy of The Heroes Project)

As the 2015 Himalayan climbing season begins, Global Rescue is proud to provide support to The Heroes Project and the group’s attempt to summit Mt. Everest this year. The Heroes Project was founded in 2009 and is comprised of three initiatives: (i) CLIMBS FOR HEROES which supports wounded veterans who climb mountains as part of their recovery process; (ii) HOPE FOR HEROES which supports community service programs that assist veterans and their families; and (iii) VOICE FOR HEROES which provides media support for veterans' issues.

To date, The Heroes Project team, including veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, has summited the highest peaks on six of the seven continents. Last year, an attempt to summit Everest was postponed following the tragic death of 16 Sherpas in an avalanche.  This climbing season, The Heroes Project team, which includes USMC SSgt. Charlie Linville, will be attempting once again to summit Everest. A documentary on The Heroes Project and their completion of the Seven Summits is scheduled to be released in late 2015.

Global Rescue is proud to provide travel risk and crisis management services to The Heroes Project climbers as they make their push for the world’s highest summit.

Altitude sickness: Life-saving tips for climbers

  
  
Global Rescue, Dr. Eric Johnson, Nepal

Global Rescue Associate Medical Director Eric Johnson, MD (left), in Nepal with aircraft personnel

As another Himalayan climbing season begins in earnest, Global Rescue has some information to share that should help our members deal with altitude sickness. Global Rescue Associate Medical Director Eric Johnson, MD, has been practicing high altitude medicine for decades, is one of the founders of Everest ER (the medical clinic at Everest base camp) and is an expert in treating altitude-related illnesses. Dr. Johnson offers this advice on how to recognize, treat, and avoid altitude sickness.

Altitude Sickness – What is it?

Altitude sickness is best defined as a series of symptoms that occur during travel at high elevation.  It can affect anyone who travels at altitude, regardless of age, fitness level, gender or ethnicity and if you’ve had it before, you may be more prone to recurrence. Symptoms are generally diagnosed in three broad categories:

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS):

AMS is the most common and least dangerous type of altitude sickness. The symptoms mirror those of a bad hangover and typically start at 8,000 feet in elevation. Symptoms usually start within a day or two of traveling to a new elevation and can include:

--Headache

--Feeling tired

--Feeling lightheaded

--Loss of appetite

--Trouble sleeping

--Nausea, sometimes with vomiting

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE):

HACE is less common than AMS but much more serious. With HACE, the brain swells significantly, causing a loss of coordination both mentally and physically. HACE is especially dangerous to those climbing or mountaineering where the inability to ambulate (i.e. climb) can cost one’s life. These symptoms appear along with typical AMS indicators.  The following symptoms of HACE typically start after one to three days at altitude:

--Extreme tiredness and weakness

--Trouble walking normally

--Confusion and irritability

--Acting drunk or confused

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE):

HAPE is also less common but more dangerous than AMS. HAPE occurs when fluid accumulates in the lungs and usually starts after two to four days at elevation. The symptoms of HAPE are:    

--Coughing

--Feeling breathless, with worsening exercise tolerance; shortness of breath   at rest

--Trouble walking uphill

Treatment:

If climbers begin to experience symptoms from HACE or HAPE, they should descend immediately and NOT continue to ascend on their trek or climb. Staying at the same altitude and allowing one’s body to acclimatize to the altitude can resolve mild symptoms of AMS. In an emergency, some mountain clinics may use oxygen (“the” drug at altitude) and/or a Gamow bag, a portable hyperbaric chamber that can increase the atmospheric pressure inside of it. Physicians may also prescribe medicines such as Acetazolamide (brand name Diamox) and Dexamethasone (brand name Decadron) to prevent and treat altitude sickness. If the issue is serious enough to warrant the use of these medicines, you should immediately descend.

Prevention:

The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to add a day or two into your trip to let yourself acclimatize to the new elevation. Even if these days aren’t specifically scheduled, give yourself an extra floating day to spend in case someone does come down with AMS and needs an extra day to adjust. Since AMS can resemble the symptoms of a hangover, it is important to refrain from drinking while at elevation. Not only will it make it difficult to discern the difference between a hangover and AMS, but it is also a good idea to stay in top shape while climbing or trekking. If you are traveling to a high elevation area, speak with your doctor about proper preparation.

A good review article with additional guidelines can be found at the Wilderness Medical Society: www.wms.org.

About the Author

Eric Johnson, MD, joined Global Rescue as an Associate Medical Director in 2009.  He is an expert in wilderness and altitude medicine and is a past President of the Wilderness Medical Society where he has served on the Board of Directors since 2006. Dr. Johnson also serves on the Board of Directors of the Himalaya Rescue Association and is a founding physician at Mt. Everest ER, the medical clinic located at Mt. Everest Basecamp.  Dr. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Medical School.

             

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In danger on Makalu: "The quick and very professional response of Global Rescue saved my life."

  
  

 Makalu, Global Rescue, Irena Mrak  Irena Mrak on the slopes of Makalu

In October 2014, Slovenian geography professor, experienced climber and American Alpine Club member Irena Mrak was attempting Mount Makalu (8463 m) and conducting glacier research on the slopes of the mountain, on the border of Nepal and China. After spending four weeks above 5800 m, she fainted on the last morning in Advanced Base Camp, after descending and cleaning the high camps the day before.

Mrak’s boyfriend, Dr. Tomaž Goslar, told The Himalayan Times: “On that day, her friends had called me in Slovenia to inform me that she had been complaining about difficulty in breathing and blurred vision. It was then that I felt something was seriously wrong.”

Her condition deteriorated quickly and she lost consciousness within four hours of the beginning of symptoms. She was airlifted from Makalu Advanced Base Camp to Lukla, where initial medical treatment was performed prior to continuing the transport to Kathmandu. 

Makalu, Global Rescue

The south face of the mountain 

At the time, Mrak was in critical condition. She had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and was breathing on a ventilator.  For several hours, her pupils were unresponsive, she did not react to pain, and her condition did not appear to be improving.  Hospital staff presumed that Mrak would not live due to severe High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) but continued their efforts. 

Hospital staff called Global Rescue, and we immediately deployed one of our critical care paramedics to Mrak’s bedside in Kathmandu. Once our paramedic arrived, he quickly arranged to have all of Mrak’s medical records sent to the Global Rescue medical team for careful review by Global Rescue and Johns Hopkins physicians. The following day, Mrak showed signs of increased consciousness and began breathing spontaneously, ultimately regaining consciousness.  Once out of ICU, Mrak continued to receive treatment for HACE and for a retinal hemorrhage.

The Global Rescue personnel met with Mrak’s physicians, obtaining details regarding the retinal hemorrhage from the ophthalmologist who examined her and assisting with the management of her care by relaying information to and from the attending and Global Rescue’s physicians.

With all tests and lab values showing continuous improvement in the following days, the Global Rescue medical team recommended that Mrak would be ready to be discharged shortly and to fly home to Slovenia. Dr. Goslar, an ICU physician in Slovenia, had flown to Nepal to be with Mrak and accompanied her home. He expressed his gratitude to the Global Rescue team.

Today, Mrak has made a nearly full recovery. She continues to experience residual visual disturbance in both eyes.  Based on further ophthalmological evaluations, Mrak’s specific eye injury showed her case to be unusual, even exotic, since a similar case has not yet been recorded in the medical literature. After four months, she has regained some vision and can read with difficulty but still cannot see colors properly. Mrak is optimistic that it will resolve even though the doctors are unsure.  Her illness was most likely a result of complete physical exhaustion after long exposure to high altitudes, extreme weather conditions (cold and wind), and poor diet (canned food, low on vitamins).

Irena Mrak 
 Irena Mrak 

“Global Rescue responded immediately and had their paramedic on site in less than 24 hours,” she noted.  “The Global Rescue operations personnel knew all the details about my case and could provide them to my family.  Global Rescue gathered all the necessary medical information from family members and shared them with hospital staff.  I would like to especially recognize the Global Rescue paramedic who attended to me for his professional attitude and warmth.

“Global Rescue did their job well. I have already informed the Alpine Association of Slovenia about our positive experience and will definitely recommend your services in the future,” she said.

Concluded Mrak: “The fast reaction of my climbing partner Mojca Svajger, the people in the ABC, Dr. Barun Rai, the American climber Garrett Madison and his Norwegian client Andrea, the Nepali staff, the doctors in Vajodha hospital in Kathmandu, and the quick and very professional response of Global Rescue saved my life.” 

Global Rescue, Irena Mrak, Mount Makalu

Irena Mrak (center),with climbing partner Mojca Svajger (left), and Global Rescue paramedic Michael James (right).

(All photos courtesy of Irena Mrak)

 

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Alpinist Ian Welsted thanks Global Rescue after helicopter evacuation in the Himalaya

  
  

Noted alpinist Ian Welsted embarked on his first trip to Nepal in September 2014 to tackle the challenge of climbing the south face of Nuptse. It is “one of the truly legendary big walls of the Himalayan mountains,” Welsted later described it in his Alpinist magazine account.

Ian Welsted, Global Rescue, Nuptse

Ian Welsted climbing snow at 6,000 meters during the pair’s first attempt.

Ian Welsted, Jason Kruk, Global Rescue, Nuptse

Jason Kruk at the team’s high point of 6,500 meters on their second attempt, looking up at the 7,750 meter west summit of Nuptse.

Welsted and climbing partner Jason Kruk had spent six weeks in a base camp at 5,400 meters on the south face of Nuptse. Following an attempt to climb to approximately 6,500 meters on the mountain, the pair realized that they would not be able to succeed in climbing it. They descended, headed to the nearest town, and rested there for a couple of days.  Their plan was to walk to Lukla, two or three days away, on a well-beaten trekking trail. 

It was not to be. On the first day of hiking, as they had descended to about 3,800 meters, Welsted suddenly lost consciousness.  Once he regained consciousness after several minutes, he experienced headache, weakness and nausea.

“Jason phoned Global Rescue,” said Welsted.

The Global Rescue operations team spoke with the guide accompanying the team and immediately arranged a helicopter evacuation to Kathmandu.  Upon landing, Welsted was transported by ambulance to a hospital.

At the Kathmandu hospital, Welsted underwent a battery of tests, including an EEG, a CT scan, and later, an MRI.  Global Rescue operations professionals worked tirelessly to obtain copies of all tests, records and labs for the Global Rescue medical team to scrutinize.

Welsted confirmed that, while he had been taking good care of himself, he had never previously spent such a long period of time at such a high altitude.  Looking back, Welsted believes he passed out due to fatigue, stress, or some combination of the two.

“With Nuptse, you’ve got a base camp of 5,400 meters, which is certainly quite high. To climb at that altitude, you have to acclimate and we went for quite a long time,” he said. “Spending six weeks at 5,400 meters is the longest I’ve been at that high altitude for sure.”

 

Ian Welsted, Jason Kruk, Global Rescue

Jason Kruk getting ready for the day in a lightweight tent at about 6,000 meters with the famous Ama Dablam peeking out from behind.

The Global Rescue team worked closely with Welsted’s doctor until Welsted was ready to be discharged.

“One of the Global Rescue operations staff called me while I was still in the hospital and set everything in motion,” said Welsted. “Our tickets were changed so that I could fly home earlier.  I thought Global Rescue services were great.”

Welsted advised Global Rescue once he had safely returned to Vancouver, offering his sincere gratitude, and noting that he would be renewing his membership.

“Global Rescue covered all of my needs, more than to my expectations,” said Welsted, “I was heli-evacuated quickly and efficiently and then transported to the top hospital in Kathmandu. Upon discharge, Global Rescue took care of changing my return date to Canada, which was very helpful as I was in no great condition to deal with tracking down airline details.

“Without Global Rescue coverage, I would be out of pocket for the helicopter evacuation, which I am told would have cost upward of $5,000. I was on a mountaineering trip which already had a considerable bill attached, so I was very glad to have the Global Rescue coverage.

“I’ve shopped around quite a bit -- for example, the British Mountaineering Council has some kind of rescue insurance -- but Global Rescue seems to be the best way of doing things that I’ve found.”

Welsted, an American Alpine Club member who had previously traveled to Pakistan on three occasions, recalled how he first learned about Global Rescue.

“Steve Swenson, who was president of the American Alpine Club, was the one who introduced the idea of Global Rescue to us, and I joined the AAC to get a discount on the membership,” said Welsted.  “I know that Global Rescue had rescued Steve about two years ago in India. So, for climbers, Global Rescue definitely seems like it works really well.”

Welsted concluded, “I definitely will not go on a similar trip without Global Rescue coverage in the future. After this experience, I will continue to recommend Global Rescue coverage to all of my climbing partners and friends going on mountaineering trips overseas.”

 Ian Welsted, Jason Kruk, Global Rescue

Jason Kruk low on the mountain at approximately 5,500 meters with Ama Dablam behind.

Ian Welsted, Jason Kruk, Global Rescue

Jason Kruk following a steep snow pitch in afternoon cloud buildup at 6,300 meters.

Ian Welsted, Jason Kruk, Global Rescue

Jason Kruk below the unclimbed "Cobweb wall" section of the face, the objective the pair had chosen to attempt.


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