Skiing accident abroad? Medical repatriation

Skiing accidentFor many tourists, a skiing holiday is the highlight of their winter. Spending precious days on the snow-covered slopes, enjoying nature and relaxing properly. But, especially if you leave your cross-country skis behind in favour of Alpine skiing or snowboarding, you take a calculated risk. After all, skiing accidents occur comparatively frequently for various reasons. The biggest risk factors are:

  • a skiing error on the skier's own part
  • skiers overestimating their own skiing abilities
  • incorrect assessment of the slope conditions
  • the inconsiderate skiing style of other skiers
  • the uncontrolled skiing style of beginners
  • skiing under the influence of alcohol following après-ski

Due to the high speeds achieved in Alpine skiing, accidents involving broken bones (e.g. ankle fractures, thigh fractures [link], or broken ribs) knee injuries, or, in particularly severe cases, even traumatic cranial or brain injuries, can occur. An operation and the associated hospital treatment are often inevitable, bringing the dream skiing holiday to an abrupt end.

Medical repatriation after a skiing accident

After a serious skiing accident, the patient is first taken to a hospital close to the ski resort. However, many patients do not want to stay there for a long time and wish to continue their treatment in their home country. The trust in doctors is often greater at home, communication with staff in the patient's own mother tongue is much easier, and moral support from relatives and friends is, of course, greater. Depending on the country in which the patient is hospitalised, the quality of medical care may vary. A lack of sufficient medical care is an important reason for the swift repatriation of injured patients, often referred to as medical repatriation.

What happens during medical repatriation?

Since a seriously injured patient cannot travel home by themselves, they need a specialised medical repatriation. Depending on the route and the exact nature of the injury, various means of transport are possible.

Ambulance jet

Following a particularly serious injury, or in extremely urgent cases, an ambulance jet [link] is the most suitable means of transport. The majority of intensive care patients can be transported quickly and safely in an ambulance jet, because the equipment on board is equivalent to that in many modern intensive care units. The medical crew is led by a flight doctor who is responsible for the patient's wellbeing throughout the flight.

Not all ski resorts are close to large international airports, so further advantage of the ambulance aircraft often comes to the fore: an ambulance jet can land on the small runways of regional airports, which are often much closer to the patient's location. This saves time and reduces stressful ground transports to a minimum. In most regions of the world, an ambulance jet can be deployed on the same day or the next. So, after a skiing accident, it is the fastest and safest way of getting home.

Scheduled Airliner

A medical repatriation in a scheduled airliner [link] is more cost-effective than using an ambulance aircraft. This is only possible if the patient does not need intensive medical care and the flight is planned one or two days ahead. The airline needs this period of time to carry out medical assessments. During a medical repatriation on board a scheduled airliner, a medical flight attendant, either a doctor or a paramedic, is at the patient's side throughout the flight and takes responsibility for their wellbeing.

If the patient needs to be transported lying down, a patient stretcher bed can be installed in the aircraft, which enables a comfortable flight. A privacy screen shields the patient from the curious glances of fellow travellers. If the patient is well enough to sit, he or she is allocated a regular seat in Business Class. Here, the patient can sit upright for take-off and landing and can recline the seat for the rest of the flight, for additional comfort.

Patient transfers in scheduled airliners are particularly common on long-haul routes. By contrast, they are extremely rare on short-haul routes: for short-haul flights the airlines place great importance on the return flight beginning shortly after landing. Therefore, the time on the ground is not usually sufficient for the installation of a patient stretcher bed. On short-haul routes, Business Class offers only limited added value compared to Economy Class. Often, a regular seat will be allocated, with the seat next to the patient remaining free. Whether this offers the patient enough comfort and whether the medical flight attendant has enough space to care for the patient, must be decided in each individual case. We would be happy to discuss your options with you.

Helicopter

While helicopters are used to transport patients to hospital in the immediate recovery or rescue period after a skiing accident, they are rarely used to transport patients on longer journeys. The range of a helicopter is too limited to cover medium or long distances quickly and economically. For this reason, helicopters are only suitable for short-haul medical repatriations. In these cases, they guarantee a fast patient transfer because they can usually land directly at the hospital. This eliminates time-consuming and stressful ground transport.

A flight doctor ensures the medical safety of the patient on board, while the technical equipment offers conditions similar to a modern intensive care unit. This ensures the patient's wellbeing at all times during the flight.

Medical repatriation with our 'bed to bed' service

If you have had a skiing accident and would like to continue your treatment in your home country, we are your reliable partner for a safe, simple medical repatriation. We are available for you around the clock, every day of the year, and will relieve you of the entire organisational burden. Upon request, our multilingual team can contact the foreign hospital directly to discuss organisational issues or arrange a doctor-to-doctor consultation to clarify the patient's fitness to travel

We organise the medical repatriation of patients in an ambulance aircraft or scheduled airliner according to our tried and tested bed-to-bed principle: we pick up the patient in an ambulance or emergency vehicle and take him or her to the departure airport accompanied by medical staff. From there, we fly the patient to their home country, where another ambulance or emergency vehicle will be waiting at the airport. The organisation of the medical repatriation allows all the pick-up and transfer times to be coordinated and the entire patient transfer therefore proceeds quickly and safely.

Contact us now

After a skiing accident, we can organise a swift medical repatriation for you. We are available to assist you daily around the clock, 365 days a year and will gladly advise you. Feel free to contact us:

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