EMS Ambulance 21 Apr 2021
What if I contract COVID during my stay abroad?
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a lot of restrictions on international travel, many essential journeys are still possible – whether for business, for family reasons, for medical treatment, or more.
Anyone who’s thinking about travelling abroad at the moment, however, has the same questions: What happens if I contract COVID while I’m away? And if I get ill, will I be able to get myself back home again?
Having safely repatriated more than 100 patients in a similar situation, EMS Ambulance has built up a wealth of experience around COVID-19 repatriation and how to handle it well. Let’s look at some of the answers.
Why COVID repatriation is advisable: a case in point
Everyone knows that the coronavirus affects people in very different ways. While some people who become infected are asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms, others can become very ill with the virus and require intensive medical treatment.
One of the problems with COVID, however, is that it’s difficult to tell exactly how the disease will progress in each individual. An infection that begins with manageable symptoms can sometimes deteriorate into something much more serious – and very quickly.
This was exactly what happened with one of our most recent cases. This particular patient was on a work assignment in the Baltic region when she tested positive for the virus. A decision was made to repatriate her immediately, even though she was only experiencing mild, flu-like symptoms at the time and seemed to be doing well.
EMS Ambulance transported this young woman by Air Ambulance to an airport in her home country, and the repatriation went very smoothly. Just two hours after landing with a journey of three hours by road ambulance ahead, however, the patient’s condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. During the road transport she needed up to 8 litres per minute of oxygen. Originally the patient was supposed to go home, but instead she was brought into the hospital closest to where she lived and ended up needing intensive care treatment.
If I tested positive for COVID, how would EMS Ambulance get me home?
The first thing to say is: don’t worry. Wherever you are in the world, EMS Ambulance can get you back home quickly and safely – and a COVID-positive situation is no exception. We can arrange your transport within 24 to 48 hours at the latest. And we’ll handle all the details of the journey for you, from collection at your accommodation or local hospital by Road Ambulance, to clearing you for the flight and liaising with doctors and medical facilities in your repatriation country.
From the moment we collect a patient with COVID, every part of the journey is carried out with the person in full isolation. If you’re conscious and able to sit up when we arrive, we would dress you in protective clothing ready for your journey.
But we can also transport patients who are unconscious, sedated or in an induced coma and intubated/ventilated and need to lie down during travel. For this we use an advanced protective unit called an Epi-shuttle, or ISOVAC. Epi-shuttles are portable transfer pods which prevent viral particles from cross-contaminating the air outside. They are also equipped with specially designed portals, fitted with protective gloves, so we can carry out any necessary medical interventions – such as administering oxygen – during the journey.
Every flight by private Air Ambulance comes with a trained medical team, including a doctor and an advanced paramedic. They are there to monitor you closely and take care of anything you need on the trip. They’re also there to provide reassurance – we know that travelling when you’re ill can feel daunting or frightening, so we always go out of our way to keep talking to our patients, to let them know that we’re there for them every step of the way.
Once you arrive at your destination, we can take care of the onward journey to your home or hospital. All of this will happen in full isolation. Once we’ve transferred you to your own doctors, we’ll make sure everything is OK before we leave. We’ll also stay in touch with you or your family over the next few days to find out how things are going.
Do you need to know more about COVID-19 repatriation and how it works? Perhaps you’re looking into the options for a friend or family member. If so, please get in touch with us direct and we’ll be happy to answer your questions. You'll find all the details on our Contact page.