A UK national had suffered serious head injuries after falling from the mast of a yacht and had been given emergency surgery in New Zealand. CEGA, a Charles Taylor company, was asked to arrange the patient’s repatriation back to the UK, so he could have ongoing treatment and rehabilitation and be reunited with his family.
“The patient had multiple clinical needs and the journey home would be long; crossing several time zones,” says CEGA’s Chief Flight Nurse. “No single commercial airline on this route would be able to accommodate such a high dependency case. It was essential to plan the journey meticulously, drawing on the appropriate resources and making a thorough assessment of the potential risks and benefits.”
After full assessment of the patient’s condition and extensive discussions with his treating doctor, CEGA’s in-house medical team was satisfied that he was fit to fly and that a three-stage repatriation would offer him the quickest, safest journey home. It would also enable the accompanying medics to work in shifts over the 12,000-mile trip; giving the patient the very best medical care.
A high dependency team was soon dispatched to the patient’s bedside in New Zealand to accompany him by road ambulance to the airport, where an air ambulance was ready and waiting to fly them to Singapore for the first leg of the journey.
When they arrived in Singapore later that day, the team carefully transferred the patient to the integrated intensive care unit of a commercial aircraft, via a seamless wing-to-wing transfer (two planes parked next to each other). This kept time on the ground to a minimum and ensured that all clinical information could be communicated to the second medical team, who were waiting to take over.
Once onboard, the patient was given plenty of privacy and dignity, away from commercial passengers, and was soon on his way to the next stop: Germany. A second wing-to-wing transfer here soon had him safely aboard an air ambulance, under the care of another specialist ICU team, who continued his care during the final flight to the UK. The team then accompanied him by road ambulance to the UK hospital, which was ready and waiting to receive him. They made sure that all documentation from the original treating hospital was transferred to the receiving doctor.
Throughout all three transfers, medical equipment and supervision were of intensive care standard. The teams constantly assessed the patient’s condition; documenting medication times and the physiological effects of the journey, and doing everything they could to meet his needs and reassure him.
Within 24 hours, the patient had been successfully transferred to a high dependency hospital bed in the UK for ongoing neurological treatment.