Having a loved one injured while on vacation or travelling abroad can be an incredibly stressful and frightening situation. As the healthy companion, you suddenly find yourself needing to manage a myriad of pressing medical, practical, and logistical concerns in order to provide support. By following the steps in this guide, you can ensure your loved one injured on vacation gets prompt and appropriate help until they are stable enough to return home for further recovery.
1. Stay Calm and Take Care of Immediate Needs
The introduction to any crisis situation is always chaotic and disorienting. Take some deep breaths to collect yourself, then methodically address any bleeding or other risk to life or limb. Provide first aid if you are able and properly trained to do so. Make your loved one as comfortable as possible, offer reassurance that they will be alright, and help is coming. Even minor injuries warrant seeing a doctor for full evaluation when away from home.
2. Contact Emergency Services
If the injury appears serious, call the local emergency medical services right away. Carefully explain what happened and the type and extent of injury. Closely follow any instructions provided. While even seemingly minor injuries are best examined by a doctor when away from home, it is always safest to activate emergency responders promptly if the condition appears potentially moderate to severe. They can also notify the hospital that you are en route.
3. Notify Family Members
Reach out to your loved one’s close family and friends back home. Keep them regularly updated on the evolving situation, location, condition, and prognosis. If you feel overwhelmed navigating a foreign medical and insurance system, ask if a family member can liaise with these entities on your behalf. Share all the pertinent details you have gathered thus far so others can assist. Exchange key contacts and discuss the next steps.
4. Gather Information
Thoroughly document the sequence of events leading to injury, any symptoms described, emergency care administered, timing of transport, and arrival to hospital, etc. Note the injury time and current time frequently. Obtain witness accounts and contact info as relevant. This information will prove invaluable to healthcare providers assessing and treating your loved one. Keep it readily accessible along with their medical history.
5. Offer Comfort
Even minor injuries and treatment can be distressing. Monitor your loved one’s condition closely and advocate for pain control or other needs to be addressed promptly. Offer comforting words and your steady presence. Ask if any items from home or familiar objects nearby would lift their mood while receiving medical care or awaiting transport.
6. Handle Belongings
Safeguarding your loved one’s belongings is a critical task during medical emergencies abroad. Carefully gather all personal items they had with them such as luggage, passport, travel documents, wallet, eyewear, medical equipment, medications, electronics, valuables, and anything else. Keep these secure until your loved one is able to manage them again. This prevents loss or theft of important and costly items when the affected person is distracted by injury or treatment.
If your loved one will need to remain hospitalized for a length of time, put together a bag with toiletries, comfortable clothes, familiar photos or objects, entertainment items and other touchstones from home. Even small comforts can brighten a hospital room in a foreign place and support mental well-being during recovery.
7. Act as Liaison
Serve as the link between your loved one and healthcare staff, insurance providers, family back home, hotel personnel and any other parties involved. Maintain clear and thorough notes of conversations regarding diagnosis, treatments, discharge timing, transport options, expenses, next steps, etc. Keep your loved one’s family and friends circle informed to reduce the repetition of questions. A simple way to do this is through an online chat service such as WhatsApp, Discord, or Messenger.
8. Rearrange Flights
If injuries will preclude existing flight arrangements, work closely with the airline, doctors, and medical transport firms to arrange safe, appropriate repatriation. Some carriers offer specialized stretcher systems, in-flight nursing care and individual monitoring for bedbound passengers. You may need to obtain proper fit-to-fly clearance from physicians in order to do this.
As arranging these kinds of flights can be hard work, especially in a foreign country, many people find it easier to hire a non-emergency medical transport service to handle all logistics. A service like this can make arrangements with the airlines and book any required accommodations. They can even provide a flight nurse for those who need bedbound patient transportation. With care and planning, even serious conditions need not prevent necessary air travel.
9. Monitor Health Status
Keep close tabs on your loved one’s condition and alert medical staff promptly about any changes or concerns. Monitor their vital signs if you are able to. Track their symptoms, pain levels, treatments given and effects. Help interpret their needs to providers. Advocate for appropriate pain management, consults or other measures you feel would aid diagnosis and recovery.
10. Manage Finances
You may also need to handle the payment of medical bills, insurance claims processing, reimbursements and other financial tasks. Keep meticulous records and follow up as needed. If costs may exceed coverage limits, discuss special travel insurance to evacuate your loved one for further care. Also, arrange logistics like closing out hotel payments, rebooking missed tours and managing other trip-related finances.
Make sure to take care of yourself during this stressful time as well. Try to get enough rest between hospital visits. Eat regular healthy meals. Make time to decompress and process your emotions. Stay hydrated. Let your family back home know if you need additional assistance. Your strength and resilience will help your loved one injured on vacation through their ordeal.
Having a plan, staying calm, and working through each need methodically will help you effectively assist your loved one injured on vacation through this difficult scenario abroad. With your diligent support, they can get quality care until stable enough to return home safely to continue recovery.