Travel Assistance 101: How a Commercial Medical Evacuation Works

Airplane on a runwayWhat do you think of when you hear the word “medical evacuation?” Some of us think of “M*A*S*H”- type helicopters rescuing people atop Mt. Everest or in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Others might think of special military ops and top-secret government assignments … or some of us might not know what to think! But the truth is, anyone could experience a medical emergency while traveling, and when it comes to getting our members home safe and sound, medical rescues with air ambulances are not our only option.

In fact, a medical evacuation with a commercial flight is one of our more common transport options. Our Transportation Manager Juan Ives, a retired United States Air Force Combat Flight Medic, is no stranger to the logistics and nuances behind medical evacuations — during his military career, he moved more than 3,800 injured soldiers to safe haven. “Our first consideration is always the health, safety and well-being of our travelers. An air ambulance evacuation is best for those with the most serious medical conditions — the patient is usually strapped to a stretcher. It is literally an ambulance with wings. However, if the member is medically stable, alert, and conscious, a commercial evacuation with a nurse escort is the best way to go since it can be much Happy nursemore comfortable for the patient and traveling companion,” Juan explained.

So how does a commercial evacuation with a nurse escort work?  A medical nurse escort is for those who have medical needs in transport, such as monitoring, medication/IV, oxygen, or if you are being transported to a medical facility.

For instance, you’re leaving your business meeting in Dubai and you’re in a rush to make it to your next meeting. On the way down the stairs, you miss a few steps and take a tumble. You end up needing surgery for a fractured hip (good thing you had On Call to refer you to an appropriate local facility with orthopedic surgeons!) and after a 5-day post-op recovery in a hospital in Dubai, you want to go a rehabilitation at home to continue your recovery. In this situation, On Call would arrange for your trip home under the care of a medical nurse escort. The process would look something like this:

  • On Call’s medical team and assistance coordinators work directly with your treating doctors to determine the medical care and equipment required for your safe journey home. This also includes help with basic tasks such as getting up and down from your seat, eating, drinking, handling your luggage/personal belongings and going to the restroom.
  • On Call will coordinate all the logistics involved with getting you home — this includes everything from quickly booking your flights (in the case of a hip fracture, you would most likely need a business-class seat that lays flat), securing visas (if necessary), obtaining medical clearances/authorizations from your treating hospital and arranging necessary ground transportation.
  • On Call’s escorts won’t leave your side until you’re home with your family or at your hospital of choice. And rest assured that through the whole process, On Call will provide your loved ones, employer, receiving facility (and all other interested parties) with timely updates on your status.

By understanding how our different types of medical evacuations work, you will know what to expect if you or someone you love is ill or injured overseas. For more information on our medical emergency assistance services and procedures, check out:

What is Medical Evacuation?

What Is an Air Ambulance and What Does It Look Like?

Medical Monitoring – A Life-Saving Service.


Safe Travels!

Photo credits:

Airplane from

Nurse from Walt Stoneburner