Medical emergency during your holidays in the Caribbean… How to get back to the US?

With its year-long tropical climate, the Caribbean has been the go-to holiday destination for many Americans, especially for snowbirds planning a long stay vacation to escape winter. While staying in the Caribbean can be a dream, when planning your vacation you should take into consideration emergencies that can occur and how to deal with them. 

In this article, we are going to look at why the Caribbean is an ideal vacation destination for those in the US, at the possible medical emergencies during their holiday and at how US citizens and residents can be quickly repatriated back home in an air ambulance from the Caribbean. 

Top Caribbean holiday island destinations for snowbirds

From Antigua and Barbuda, to Belize, Jamaica or Colombia, The Caribbean has islands to match your idea of the perfect vacation, in terms of affordability, costs, climate and long-term/ short-term rental options. 

The top 5 Caribbean island holiday destinations are:

  • Barbados,
  • Cuba
  • The Bahamas, 
  • Antigua and Barbuda, 
  • Dominica


Barbados can be both a luxury holiday destination or an affordable holiday escapade for backpackers. With its luxurious hotels and villas or small apartments and guest houses, it is perfect for snowbirds planning a short or long stay holiday in the Caribbean. Beautiful beaches, historical attractions, good food… What else do you need? 



One of the most affordable destinations in the Caribbean, Cuba offers snowbirds and long stay visitors the perfect mix of pristine beaches, mountains, warm climates, affordable apartments and a joyful atmosphere with Cuban music everywhere. With its vintage charm, you will feel as if you have taken a step back in time. 

The Bahamas

Acting as a bridge to the Caribbean for those on the coastal coast of the US, especially Florida, the Bahamas is rich in cultural heritage and history. The island has events and festivals all throughout the year and is very popular among tourists because of its cruises, port and countless attractions and activities such as diving excursions and snorkeling. 

Antigua and Barbuda 

This duo is famous among visitors for its sky-blue sea, white beaches, stretches of rainforests and resorts. Its stretches of land and the privacy it offers make it the ideal holiday destination for busy Americans looking for some peace, quiet and seclusion. 


Different from the Dominican Republic, Dominica is considered to be one of the most “breathtakingly beautiful nations in the world”. Dominica has the nickname of ‘Nature Island’ of the Caribbean because of its vast wilderness: boiling lakes, rainforests and volcanic valleys. It is the perfect place for snowbirds looking for a retreat in nature. 

The Caribbean: a holiday destination for those on the US East coast 

The Caribbean is the perfect getaway for active and laid-back travelers, suiting the needs of both those living on the East Coast and the West Coast. Both regions of the US are very disparate, whether it is in terms of climate or lifestyle. 

With the East coast consisting of states and cities such as New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, it is famous for its rapid lifestyle. The East coast is all about the city life where people are always hurrying around in a hustle-bustle of work and other responsibilities. As such, when it comes to vacation time, those used to the fast lifestyle in big cities prefer to take a break from the commotion and to find peace and solace on the sunny Caribbean islands. With its round-the-year warm climate, it is the perfect escape for snowbirds looking for a warm retreat in nature. 

The Caribbean for those living on the West coast 

While the Caribbean seems a bit further away from the West coast in comparison to the East, it is still an attractive destination for snowbirds looking to escape winter. With Alaska being the coldest region in winter reaching possibly -.30°F, Wyoming which can receive up to 50 inches of snow in just the lowlands, Idaho reaching 25.4 °F, Montana being consistently cold throughout the year, and Oregon and Washington considered to be part of the wettest states in the US, it is not surprising that people on the West coast wish to escape to the sunny Caribbean beaches. Considering their laid-back lifestyle and their proclivity for nature, a long-stay vacation on a sunny island seems to be the perfect way to spend winter. 

man on holiday

Tips for safe and fun holidays in the Caribbean 

Proper planning is essential for safe and fun holidays in the Caribbean, especially for snowbirds going on long holidays. The following tips will help you plan and enjoy your vacation without worrying:

  • Make sure to pack sunscreen, hats, sunglasses to protect your eyes, mosquito/bug repellents, bug sprays and a soothing lotion. 
  • Pack light 100% cotton clothes 
  •  Before booking, check for potential warnings about your destination on the state department’s travel website. 
  • If planning a long-stay vacation, consider island hopping to make the most of your holidays. 
  • Make sure you are up-to-date with vaccinations and immunizations before traveling. 
  • Take insurance that covers medical repatriation back home in case of an emergency. 

Diseases that are common in the Caribbean

An important factor to take into consideration when planning your long stay vacation in the Caribbean is the general situation with regards to diseases and other medical situation. Before traveling check the travel health information sheets published by the Centers for Disease Control to make sure that you are well prepared. 

One of the leading causes of sudden illnesses in travelers in the Caribbean is food and water. Tap water, fountain drinks, ice cubes and street food are considered to be unsafe, frequently causing vomiting and diarrhea. Moreover, taking into account the high level of bugs and insects in the area, the possibility of contracting diseases such as dengue fever and malaria should not be eliminated. 

Nonetheless, the above-mentioned diseases can be avoided by taking the necessary precautions. The most worrying conditions for US citizens are heart diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes. These conditions, which are common in the US, are the leading causes of illness and premature death in the Caribbean today. Risk factors that you should be aware of when traveling is more frequent tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, lack or excess of physical activities and excessive alcohol intake. These are situations that are common during vacations. 

Why you may need medical repatriation from the Caribbean to the US?

While on holidays, travelers often forsake their healthy lifestyle and diet in favor of a more fun, interesting and appealing lifestyle. Vacations are associated with food and delicacies that may be high in fat and cholesterol, parties, social gatherings or long evenings relaxing and overindulging in alcohol and cigarettes and even exciting activities that would increase your heart rate. 

What are some of the medical emergencies that can occur while you are on holiday in the Caribbean?

  • Heart attack / stroke 
  • Pneumonia
  • Dengue fever
  • Traffic or sport injuries
  • Complications related to diabetes
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pregnancy-related complications
  • Stomach disorders / serious liver ailment and Hepatitis A

Considering the lifestyle of vacationers, the risk of a medical emergency occurring in the Caribbean is pretty high. What happens in that case? 


The health care system in the Caribbean 

While the Caribbean has various private healthcare facilities providing treatment and care, the quality can be of varying standards. While you can find efficient treatment in the Caribbean, the general healthcare system is not rated ‘first rate’ according to US standards. Under Caribbean standards, Aruba, Barbados and Martinique have the best health care facilities. Nonetheless, US citizens might not be satisfied with the quality of care provided, especially in comparison to the services of the US’s Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital and other facilities. 

Benefits of getting back to the US

Besides obtaining higher quality care in the US, medical repatriation in case of medical emergencies will allow you to enjoy several other benefits, such as being closer to your loved ones which is better for your mental health and for your recovery.

Moreover, in case of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke or diabetes, getting back home to the US from the Caribbean will permit you to be treated by your own doctor, who has access to your previous medical records and will be able to administer more efficient treatment based on your situation. 

Medical Repatriation: how to get back to the US from the Caribbean? 

In case of a medical emergency, resulting either from an illness or injury, your vacation would be ruined and getting back to the US is the best course of action for your health. How to proceed with medical repatriation? 

At Medical Air Service, we take care of medevac and medical repatriation processes to ensure that you can get back home to your loved ones and to better medical care. An expert in medical flights and patient transportation, in case of a medical emergency in the Caribbean, we can transport you to the US either via medical escorts or air ambulances. 

Medical escort to the US from the Caribbean

Medevac or medical repatriation via our medical escort implies that you will travel on a commercial flight. This is the cheapest medical repatriation option and is effective depending on your medical condition. 

When traveling with our medical escort, you will fly on a commercial plane accompanied by a medical professional who will monitor your situation and offer emergency treatment and care during the flight if required. This means that you must be fit enough to fly commercially and to wait for the availability of the plane from the commercial airline company. 

medical escort

What are some benefits of our medical escort service? 

  • You will be accompanied by expert in aero-medicine 
  • Assistance during check-in and the boarding process
  • Medical supervision and care throughout the entire flight
  • Emergency intervention in case of a medical complication onboard the flight
  • Stress-free trip for the patient and relatives
  • Reassurance and comfort throughout the flight
  • A professional who will also act as a companion

Air ambulance from the Caribbean to the US

Patients with serious or urgent medical conditions prefer to opt for medical repatriation from the Caribbean on a private medical flight. This is an air ambulance that is fitted with latest medical equipment and with doctors and paramedics on board which ensures that patients on board the air ambulance can obtain the necessary care and reaches the US safely. 

Moreover, at Medical Air Service, we can equip our air ambulances with specialized equipment and doctors depending on your medical condition. Each medical flight is tailored according to the patient’s needs and wishes. 

Our air ambulances allow you to benefit from: 

  • Planes fitted with the latest medical equipment
  • Cabin similar to Intensive Care Units (ICU)
  • Doctors and paramedics on board the plane 
  • Departure date which can be scheduled as per your convenience
  • No waiting time
  • Expert medical care and treatment throughout the flight
  • Aircraft that can land at smaller airports not accessible to commercial planes 

Benefits of booking a medical flight with Medical Air Service 

Booking an air ambulance from the Caribbean offers US citizens and residents several benefits. With a medical flight, you do not have to wait for availability from commercial airlines. A private air ambulance can be ready for take-off far more quickly, which expedites the medevac process. We can usually have a medical flight available on the following day of the booking being made. 

air ambulance

Moreover, medical jets can reach smaller airports on the Caribbean islands that may otherwise be inaccessible to commercial planes, ensuring the patient transportation journey is safer and smoother. Medical Air Service can also arrange for ground transportation for you in the Caribbean. Thanks to our bed-to-bed service, we can pick you up from your hotel/apartment in a ground ambulance and take you the airport where the air ambulance will be ready for you. 

To sum it up, when booking an air ambulance with Medical Air Service, you will enjoy

  • State-of-the-art medical equipment that can be customized according to your medical condition
  • Specialist doctors to suit provide utmost care
  • A bed-to-bed service: ground transport with medical professionals to take you to and from the airport
  • Dedicated agent for your case
  • Agents available 24/7
  • Stress-free experience; we take care of the whole organizational process
  • One free accompanying person, depending on the case
  • Lifeflight organized by experts in the field
  • Air ambulance services available worldwide
  • An expert company part of an established network

Contact us for an air ambulance from the Caribbean

Medical repatriation from the Caribbean is incredibly easy thanks to our expert agents. Just get in touch with us and we will take care of the whole patient transport journey. Our experts will advise you for free and also provide you with a customized non-obligation quotation for an air ambulance to the US from the Caribbean. Contact them by:

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