|South Pacific Splendor, photo by Andrew Ingersoll
Some will remember that I work causally for a company that provides medical retrieval and repatriation to persons in need of medical assistance. This job has offered me many memorable journeys. Recently while I was on “uni holidays” (i.e., winter break from law school), I received a text message seeking a nurse who could go to the Cook Islands with an incredibly quick turn-around. Having no commitments in my schedule, I jumped on the opportunity to get another stamp in the passport.
When someone needs medical assistance to travel, there are a number of ways to do it depending on the circumstance in which the person can be moved. In emergency situations, the most common forms of transport are ambulance for short distances and helicopter for more intricate or emergent scenarios (yet within a small radius). In a more accessible world, emergent evacuations can be done in converted/outfitted prop planes for mid-range distances, and small jet aircraft for longer distances. Lastly, when someone requires assistance in a non-emergent setting, commercial aircraft can be utilized and outfitted to move people long-range.
The work I have done has been mostly international travel to and from Australia. I’ve done some jobs with the converted small jet as well as a handful via commercial carriers. The South Pacific Islands are popular holiday destinations for Australians due to their proximity. Unfortunately, people do get sick or injured while on holiday. Over the past few years, I’ve been to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Fiji, New Caledonia, and French Polynesia. When the text came through for a commercial airline job to the Cook Islands
, I was happy to put my hand up.
Travel insurance companies organize the repatriation of the ill or injured and organize the travel itineraries based on the needs of both the medical staff and the patient. Due to the limited flight schedule to Raratonga, in the Cook Islands, I was in for a tiring trip: Sydney to Auckland to Raratonga departing 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sydney time, arriving 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Raratonga time — same day! I crossed four times zones and the International Date Line. I met with my patients and confirmed that they were fit to fly with a departure time of 8 a.m. Tuesday. Time zones definitely have the ability of really messing with your internal clock. I went from Raratonga to Auckland (crossing the IDL again, arriving in Auckland on Wednesday) to Melbourne to a local hospital, then I was back out to Melbourne airport for a flight back to Sydney. I arrived back at my door at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Thankfully, the journey was uneventful except for Tuesday lasting exceptionally long.
I now have a passport stamp from the Cook Islands and a pretty decent photo from the plane. I’d like to take this time to reiterate: Make sure you travel with decent health insurance. I’ve heard horror stories about people being unable to be evacuated because they were not carrying travel insurance. The chances of actually needing to use it may be slim, but every single one of the people I’ve escorted home has been exceptionally grateful for having coverage.
Semester has started again so my chances of darting off into the Pacific in the next few months is unlikely. But you better believe come my next uni holiday, I’ll be anxiously waiting to see where I go next: Samoa, Nuie, Nauru, Micronesia, Tonga, or the Marshal Islands?
Credit Card Spreadsheet
Sorry you can’t modify and use this one, but at least it is an example of what Jeff uses to keep up with his credit card sign-ups.