Visiting or Retiring Abroad: Have a Plan for Medical Emergencies
At MedFlight911, many of the patients we work with have encountered medical problems while traveling. With that in mind, we though we'd devote February to a series of blog posts on traveling healthy. Today, we're sharing a post on how important it is to have a plan for what you'll do in the case of medical emergency—or if you need an air ambulance.
For many people, retirement offers an opportunity to engage in long-put-off travel. They may cruise around the world, buy an RV and travel the backroads of America, or purchase a second home in another country. Or, if they're like MedFlight911 President Dee McCluskey's parents, they might head to an exotic destination like Costa Rica for some much-deserved rest and relaxation. But that trip almost ended in disaster because of an unexpected medical situation. Here's what happened.
After arriving in Costa Rica—where they planned to stay for four months—Dee's parents headed to their vacation home in a fairly remote area of the country. But they had been there less than a day when his mom was stung not once but five times by a six-inch scorpion. The stings were on her knee, and she quickly developed an allergic reaction and other symptoms. To make matters worse, she was stung by a wasp later that night. They tried to treat both injuries, but weren't really sure what steps to take—the soap and water they were using to clean the sting areas didn't seem to be helping. She wasn't getting any better, and they grew more concerned. The nearest medical center was two hours away. Would they people able to get there in time? What if she needed an international air ambulance to get back to the U.S?
Fortunately, everything turned out OK for Dee's parents. His mom got the medical care she needed and they are enjoying their time in Costa Rica. But their experience raises an important issue: Do you have a plan for what you'll do if a medical emergency happens when you're traveling or living abroad? Do you know what kind of risks you'll face? Having that information may help you avoid an air ambulance trip.
If you're traveling to an unfamiliar area, and especially if you'll be spending a significant amount of time there, make sure you familiarize yourself with the environment. Know what insects or other critters you might encounter (and how to avoid them). Make sure you have a first-aid kit handy, and that it includes medications like Benadryl, which can be helpful if you have an allergic reaction. (Of course, if you have a life-threatening allergy, like a peanut allergy, make sure to always carry you Epi-Pen with you.) Know where you'll need to go to get medical care and how long it will take to get there—and keep in mind that if you're in a more remote location, it can take a long time to go a relatively short distance. And finally, we can't recommend strongly enough the value of travel insurance through a company like TravelGuard. Travel insurance can help you get medical care abroad, connect you with an air ambulance provider and pay for long distance medical transport if you do need to get home. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Are you interested in learning more about MedFlight911's international air ambulance services? Give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation air medical transport quote here.