After being thrown from a horse while on a safari in Botswana, a middle-aged European traveller (Patient X) landed on an uneven, rocky surface with her back. The left side of her chest wall and shoulder bore the brunt of the impact. She experienced instant and excruciating pain. Her safari guide immediately recognised the severity of the injury. After instructing Patient X not to move, she called for support staff and a first aid kit. She also set what would become a 3.5-hour medical evacuation, which was fully managed by the SPS Global Assistance Group (SPS).
Fast, Reliable, and Integrated
It started with just ONE push of a button on the safari guide’s phone.
The safari guide used the lodge’s membership app to call the emergency assistance and response cover aimed at their guests into action. At the moment of activation, the SPS SOS app ‘pushed’ through the membership details, ‘pinged’ the GPS location and started a telephone call to the SPS Global Response Centre.
The system in the Global Response Centre opened a new case and set off an alarm; the Response Coordinator (RC) answered the phone call after just three rings. The member was greeted by name. After determining the nature and severity of the emergency, the call was ‘Hot’ transferred to the Medical Case Manager (MCM). The scene had a paramedic on the phone talking to them in less than 60 seconds of the app activation.
Point of Incident Support
Once announced, the RC discreetly listened to the phone call and dropped off to activate the response plan. The MCM stated, “to the member,” that the full benefits would apply due to the potential internal bleeding and the suspected spinal, rib and scapula fractures.
The MCM stated that the closest ambulance was being sent to move Patient X inside South Africa. A helicopter would meet them & fly her to a Level 1 Trauma Facility in Johannesburg. The MCM continued with the call and provided first responder guidance until professional care arrived.
The Agile, “Unseen” Pillars of Support
The border post was closed unexpectedly. An ambulance from South Africa was no longer an option, and the nearest ambulance inside Botswana to them was four hours away. An air ambulance was activated from Gaborone with an ETA of 1h50min.
A few more curveballs needed navigating. Cardio-thoracic and Neurosurgery were not available, but an orthopaedic surgeon was available at the leading private hospital. The surgeon required CT scans, but the hospital’s scanner was not functional. A scanner was found at another facility, but none of the relevant surgeons was available. It was decided that Patient X would first be assessed and stabilised, then transferred via ambulance for the CT scans before returning to the hospital.
These communications and plans all took place during the flight to Gaborone, including the arrangement of ‘the holy grail’ of these membership programmes – the immediate release of Financial Guarantees to the service providers.
Peace of Mind
When Patient X arrived at the hospital, the MCM contacted her Travel Insurance to open a case. case. A detailed case report was sent to the assistance company. Later that day, after the initial medical reports were reviewed, the insurer confirmed cover.
Patient X did not pay a single penny! Despite the initial costs of USD 17,000.