EMS Ambulance 3 Mar 2022
Repatriation Stories: Benidorm to Holland with a road ambulance
Repatriating a sick relative can be a tough experience at the best of times. But when the patient is elderly and their insurance company won’t step in to help them get back home, the stress can be overwhelming.
That was the situation one of our customers faced recently when their 80-year-old parents got into medical difficulties in Spain.
An illness abroad
“My mother’s partner fell ill while on holiday in Benidorm and ended up in hospital,” explains ‘H A’, writing about the experience afterwards on the EMS Ambulance Google Reviews page.
“He was discharged from the hospital after a week [but then] had to be hospitalized again one and a half days later.”
By this point it was becoming clear to the family that their patient’s illness was serious so, understandably, they wanted to get him back home for treatment. His age, and doubts about the quality of care he was receiving locally, only added to the sense of urgency.
“Because of their ages, 83 and 84, and the poor conditions in the hospital, we wanted them back in the Netherlands as soon as possible,” says H A.
Running into issues
When they called the travel insurance company to ask for their help in getting him home, however, they soon discovered it wasn’t going to be forthcoming – at least not within the timeframe they needed.
“We had contact several times with both the emergency centre and the travel insurance in the Netherlands… [but] it became clear that they could not, would not, offer help in the short term. [Because] it was absolutely not an option to leave my parents there in Benidorm, I contacted EMS,” says H A.
Help from EMS Ambulance
When they called the EMS contact desk, our repatriation experts told them we’d be able to help immediately. It was just a case of deciding how they’d like to do the transport. Life-and-death emergencies or long-distance journeys are usually best done with an air ambulance. But with a little more time on their side, and a relatively straightforward overland route from eastern Spain due north to Holland, we explained that an EMS road ambulance would probably be the best (and certainly cheapest) option for getting their loved ones home.
“Repatriation road ambulances can actually go much further than many people think,” explains EMS specialist Helma Ligtenbarg. “The average journey is something like 1,600 to 2,500km – which is about the distance between our European headquarters in Amsterdam to Barcelona, say, or to Tangiers in Morocco. We once even took a patient from Athens to Aberdeen (a journey of over 4,000km) - by carefully coordinating and switching ambulance crews during the journey, we can cover long routes safely and securely.
“It’s also worth adding that our road ambulances aren’t like the traditional hospital ambulances that you see in city centres. They’re specifically built and equipped to deliver care for patients over very long distances – and even to handle intensive-care situations if they develop en route.
“In this case our team was able to reach the patients in Benidorm quickly and we had a smooth journey up through Spain and France to Holland. It was a relief for everyone to see them safely back home, where the father was able to receive further treatment.”
A successful outcome
Reflecting back on the journey, H A says the whole experience was actually much easier than they had feared at the start. “My parents were quite hesitant because of the distance, but it turned out 1000% better than expected,” they add.
“Everything was perfectly arranged, communication via email, [WhatsApp] chat and telephone went great and the ambulance team that accompanied the return trip from the hospital in Benidorm to the Netherlands was great.
“Thanks to EMS, my parents were back in the Netherlands within a few days. Helma and the whole team of EMS [have] our heartfelt thanks for all the good care… We can only recommend you.”
Are you looking into repatriation options for a friend or relative? If so, we’re always happy to chat (it’s free!) and talk about your potential options. You can call us any time on our 24/7 numbers – see our Contact page for all the details – or get a quick, no-obligation estimate for the cost of the journey at our online pricing calculator.