Safely evacuated critically ill COVID-19 patient from the Democratic Republic of Congo

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INCIDENT: Critically ill COVID-19 patient in the Democratic Republic of Congo needing a higher level of medical care required emergency evacuation after previous provider’s failed attempt.

LOCATION: Democratic Republic of Congo to Turkey

SERVICE: Medical Evacuation, Emergency Aviation, Emergency Response

SITUATION:
In July 2021, as COVID-19 and the Delta variant surged across the world, especially in underdeveloped countries, the Global Guardian team was contacted by the family of a critically ill COVID-19 patient located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

As one of the poorest countries in the world, medical supplies, trained personnel, and emergency services are very limited in urban cities and non-existent in other areas of the DRC, and most hospital facilities in the region are not equipped to provide basic care, falling far below international standards. Hospitals were unable to provide adequate care to COVID-19 patients as cases were rising in July 2021.

Along with the poor state of medical facilities, the patient suffered from pre-existing conditions which further complicated their recovery. In order to receive the high level of care the critically ill patient required, they needed to be medically evacuated from the area to a hospital with necessary resources and medical staff.

After an evacuation attempt by another provider failed, the Global Guardian team stepped in to navigate multiple security and travel complications and execute the life-saving medical transportation of the patient and subsequent travel for family members.

RESPONSE:
Upon receiving the urgent request, Global Guardian immediately began coordinating the complex emergency evacuation to ensure the patient was transported safely to another hospital location with the resources needed to receive critical care. 

While Global Guardian’s medical professionals carefully reviewed the patient’s medical records and condition in preparation for travel, the team made arrangements with a hospital in Turkey that was able to accept and provide care for the patient. In order to safely transport the patient to the hospital location, Global Guardian arranged for a specially equipped private charter, outfitted with necessary medical supplies, including oxygen, cardiac monitoring and resuscitation equipment, and medications, as well as medical staff, to fly from Ireland into the DRC, and on to Turkey.

To ensure a seamless journey for the patient, the Global Guardian team had to navigate multiple challenges presented during the coordination process, including:

  • COVID Travel Restrictions: The flight itinerary had to be adjusted and the team had to obtain special overflight permits to line up the necessary approvals and avoid conflict zones for the journey.
  • Security Issues: The DRC suffers from high crime rates and political unrest and instability, so out of an abundance of caution, armed ground transportation needed to be arranged for the patient from the hospital to the airport, as well as for the other family members traveling.
  • Other Regulations: The team had to leverage existing relationships with local government contacts to coordinate overflight and landing permits for the private charter's journey.

Once the charter arrived in the DRC, and the patient was safely and securely aboard the aircraft, they began the 11-hour journey from the DRC to Turkey, where ground transportation was waiting to bring the patient to the hospital.

In addition to the patient’s medical transportation, the team also worked under a tight timeline to arrange a separate private charter for the patient’s family members, including the swift coordination of required electronic visas and travel documentation, so they were able to make it out of the DRC on a connecting flight, and travel on to Turkey. Once there, Global Guardian arranged for an expedited clearance through customs and security.

Throughout the entirety of the complicated mission, Global Guardian’s highest priorities were keeping the patient comfortable and maintaining constant communication with all parties involved, including the patient’s family. Multiple teams contributed to the mission execution over a 72-hour period, including Global Guardian’s experienced medical professionals, intelligence analysts, special operations leaders, and emergency aviation professionals, as well as vetted aviation partners and network of local ground teams. Thanks to this coordinated effort, the team planned and executed a complex emergency evacuation, bringing the patient successfully to life-saving care. 


STANDING BY TO SUPPORT
Global Guardian’s aviation services provide transportation in emergency and non-emergency situations around the world, resulting in safe evacuation and transport of assets and personnel to secure locations and medical facilities. Even in areas where access is limited or unsafe, our aviation teams are staged across the globe and waiting to provide the service you need, without any delay.

 

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