Travel Assistance 101: How a Medical Evacuation Works


air ambul

Sometimes we travel to places where the quality of medical care isn’t the same as what we’re accustomed to in the U.S. According to our Transportation Manager, Juan Ives, “If a member needs critical medical care while they’re away, our main goal is to ensure they’re treated in a facility that is properly staffed and equipped to treat their condition. And if it’s not, it’s our job to evacuate them to a facility that can.” He continued, “If a traveler requires a higher level of specialized care (IV, fluids, oxygen, medical monitoring, etc.), and can’t travel home for care on a commercial flight, we’ll coordinate an air ambulance evacuation.”

Juan, a retired United States Air Force Combat Flight Medic, is no stranger to the logistics and nuances behind medical evacuations. In fact, during his military career, he coordinated several high-profile aeromedical missions in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and North Africa—logging more than 1500 hours of combat flight time and saving nearly 4,000 lives. Here at On Call, alongside our air ambulance coordinators, Juan and his team work tirelessly to assist our travelers through serious—and often life threatening— medical circumstances 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.This is obviously a lengthy process, but we’re here to help give a better idea of how it could actually play out in real life. Imagine that you’re visiting a construction site in a remote area of India and you fall and break your pelvis. Once emergency responders have arrived, you’re transported to a local clinic that is not equipped to treat you properly. Now what? Well, once you place a call to our Global Response Center to inform us that you’ve been hurt; Juan and his team of air ambulance coordinators will get to work. The rest of the process would look something like this:

1) Our in-house medical team consults with your treating doctor and conclude that you’ll need a transport to New Delhi—the closest city with the appropriate level of orthopedic care to treat your broken pelvis.

2) On Call works with your employer to gather all the documentation and information that is necessary for your transport and receiving hospital admission. Depending on a traveler’s             location, this could include passports, social security card, visas and health/travel insurance information.

3) On Call will arrange for an in-flight medical team and an appropriate aircraft from our network of accredited air ambulance providers—in the case of your broken pelvis, there would be a nurse and paramedic to continue your treatment, monitor vital signs and perform pain management for the duration of your flight.
Note: all of our air ambulance transfers are staffed with certified medical flight personnel. Before you depart, they will need to take duty rest, which is a mandated break in between flights. This is not only for your health and safety, but for your transport teams’ as well.

4) On Call shares the air ambulance itinerary with your authorized contacts (employer, family members etc.) as well as the treating and receiving medical facilities.

5) You arrive in New Delhi safe and sound, so you can receive the appropriate treatment for your broken pelvis; and last but not least: you’re thankful that you had On Call because a medical evacuation, depending on the location, can cost tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousand!) of dollars out of pocket!

Safe Travels!