Walter van der Wal

All about emergency medical evacuations

What are your options if you need transporting by air, etc to a medical facility?


Ending my day from work, I was casually swiping through some notifications that came up earlier on my phone. There was one in particular that stood out - ‘Van Crash in Samut Sakhon’. 

It is news that you hear often in Thailand where every minute someone is hurt due to a traffic accident.

Fortunately, the 8 passengers were only slightly hurt and were able to continue their journey after receiving medical attention. 

According to the World Health Organisation in 2013, Thailand ranked No.3 for road traffic deaths. Sadly, Thailand still holds a high ranking and many people suffer not only from severe injuries but also from the financial burden of paying excessive medical bills.

Take it from me, as an insurance broker, I always tell my clients - especially expatriates coming to live in Thailand - to get comprehensive international medical insurance, particularly the good plans that include emergency medical evacuation (EME) coverage.

So that you too are on the same page as my current clients, today I will give you an insight into what EME coverage is all about. You definitely won’t regret my advice after reading my article!

What is emergency medical evacuation?

The term "emergency medical evacuation" (EME) The reality is, if you ever find yourself caught in a medical emergency, the logistical costs of transferring to the nearest adequate medical facility could run into many, many thousands of Thai Baht.. The patient being transferred would usually have suffered a serious trauma accident, or moving from an inadequate medical facility to one which can provide more specialist care.

Why should you consider EME coverage?

If you're an adventurous person who loves exploring the land, sea, and mountains, then this will totally apply to you. The reality is, if you ever find yourself caught in a medical emergency, the logistical costs of transferring to the nearest adequate medical facility could run into many, many thousands of Thai Baht. 

So before even thinking about riding that scooter across Phuket; hiking up Chiang Rai’s Doi Luang mountain range, or jumping off the cliff edge near Railay beach, you should first and foremost consider the logistical challenges of getting to the nearest medical facility should an accident or life-threatening situation occur. You’ve heard of the cliche, right? ‘Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail’.

Being evacuated out of Thailand back to your native home country will put you closer to supportive friends and family. There are many services in place with the infrastructure to facilitate such transfers. If you want to find out more now, be sure to contact my Pacific Prime Thailand team to get the answers.

What are the modes of transport for evacuation?

Whether the transfer is done by air or land will depend on the distance, severity, and urgency as I will mention below:

Transport by air

Evacuation by air is often the most direct and convenient way of returning you or a loved one home for essential treatment. 

Private Air Ambulance

An air ambulance is a private airplane or helicopter that has been specially modified to enable emergency medical care for a patient while in transit. Each plane or helicopter may be fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, medication, and life-saving technology. 

Helicopters, in particular, are recognized by the National Institute for Emergency Medicine (NIEM) as an effective transport vehicle for reducing the number of fatalities as a result of health incidents and road accidents. They are also versatile enough to reach difficult, remote, or congested locations. Major hospitals like the Bangkok Heart Hospital has a team of medical specialists and other specialties in ACLS, cardiology, and pediatrics that can provide medical evacuation for patients in critical emergencies.

Commercial Plane

If a case is considered non-urgent such as a fractured ankle, commercial planes accompanied by a medical escort team could be the best option. The cost is also considered lower in comparison to a private air ambulance. 

There are services (e.g. by IAS Medical) available in Thailand that take patients across continents. This service is private so it is best to speak to a qualified broker, such as my team at Pacific Prime Thailand, who can help you choose the best evacuation cover.

Transport by Land

Road ambulance 

Similar to private air ambulances, these vehicles are comparable to state-of-the-art mobile emergency rooms where patients can be diagnosed, treated, and stabilized by an onboard medical team. 

Medical evacuation for expatriates

After reading the above, you most probably have a better understanding of what to expect and prepare for, and who to contact for EME coverage

Discover more about EME coverage by contacting one of our insurance experts to get some professional advice and a free quote today.

For more informative materials like this article, you can visit our health insurance guides page and our blog page. 




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