The world over, a traveler in acute medical distress is certain to get immediate help from bystanders. The suffering person is not asked their nationality or political affiliation It is an impulse deeply rooted in human nature. Think back to the prototypical example: the “Good Samaritan,” who stopped to assist someone who was clearly not of his own tribe (quite the opposite in fact). But in the case of a medical emergency abroad these days, the complications can begin after the appropriate authorities are summoned. Each country an employee or senior executive visits will likely have a different notion of how to handle the situation, and it may begin to matter which country issued your passport. Which hospital will treat them? Will anyone there speak their language? Will your colleagues or family even be able to figure out where they’ve ended up for treatment?
As an HR manager or senior executive charged with overviewing security issues for your organization, among the most challenging is the issue of medical emergencies abroad. You are not only dealing with medical issues (complicated enough, and not self-evident to the layman), you are dealing with different cultures, time zones, and a lot of emotional angst by the employee and his or her family and friends.
Employee Medical Emergencies Abroad: Not a Good Time to Improvise!
Because a medical emergency abroad can lead to a confusing set of questions about responsibility, it is an extremely good idea to devise an employee medical emergency plan before your employees travel abroad; or if they are already abroad, or you have on-going employee and executives overseas, NOW is the time to plan rather than “in a crisis.” Injured people are not generally not known for their ability quickly developing a solid and cogent “Plan B”. As a fall-back the consulate of your home country (e.g., USA, UK, France, etc.) is always a place to turn to for help. But taking care of your employees may not be their primary mission; what to your employee and her family may seem like a huge emergency (e.g., an appendicitis event, or broken knee from skiing) may not seem like a true emergency to the staff of consulates or embassies that are more charged with watching for political emergencies.
A Second Pair of Eyes: Ours, for Helping You with Security Planning
You know what they say about a second pair of eyes? People often say that a second pair of eyes can see things that the first pair of eyes often misses. In everyday life, this can be as simple as having one employee read over the annual report that has been drafted by another employee. When it comes to medical emergencies abroad, using outside experts such as the consultants of the IMG Group can be an excellent way to have your security plans (including but not limited to medical emergency plans abroad) reviewed by outside experts. The recommendations that are made may be priceless, and catch details that you and your “inside” employees do not see.
To start the process, reach out to the IMG Group and ask for a consultation. We will audit your employee needs – from how many employees and senior executives are abroad at any given moment, to the countries in which you have operations (or to which they travel), to the risk factors that are present. Medical emergencies are just one important risk factor, but a comprehensive security audit can catch not only medical emergency vulnerabilities but other types as well.
It is better to arrange with an organization such as IMG which is solely dedicated to handling overseas security for organizations than to “go it alone.” In terms of medical emergencies, our GlobalSecur division maintains an extensive and up-to-date database of how to access overseas medical services, know about the best medical facilities, and where to obtain vital prescription medications. Beyond incident response, IMG can also monitor and alert you and your employees to international health warnings (such as epidemics) and provide other services that meet your overseas medical security needs.
To learn more about how best to handle an employee medical emergency abroad, reach out to us and have one of our friendly staff explain more about the options.