Once I have started my travels, I never think twice about having a medical emergency because I have taken precautions. Proactive preparation and staying informed about your destination’s emergency services can significantly contribute to your safety and peace of mind while travelling, especially as a senior traveller.
1. Stay Calm in a Medical Emergency
In a medical emergency, the first and most critical step is to remain calm. Panicking can make the situation more challenging to manage. Take a deep breath, stay composed, and assess the situation carefully. Remember that maintaining a calm demeanour can help reassure those around you, which can be particularly important for the person in distress.
2. Contact Local Authorities
If the situation requires immediate medical attention, don’t hesitate to call local emergency services. The emergency number varies by country, so knowing the specific number for your travel destination is essential. In the United States, for example, 911 is the emergency number to dial for assistance. What are the 911 versions abroad – check it here. When calling, clearly communicate the emergency’s nature, location, and relevant details.
3. Inform Accommodation
If you are staying in a hotel, Airbnb, or any accommodation, it’s crucial to notify the staff or management as soon as possible. They can assist you in contacting local medical facilities, providing directions if necessary, and ensuring you receive the support you need promptly. Accommodation staff are often well-equipped to handle emergencies and can be a valuable resource during a crisis.
4. Carry Important Documents
Paper copies are sometimes required even if you take photos of your important documents. Before travelling, always make copies of essential documents, including your identification (such as a passport or driver’s license), travel insurance details, and a list of any medical conditions, allergies, or medications you are taking. Keep these documents secure and separate from the originals, and ensure that a trusted travel companion can access this information. These documents can be invaluable for medical professionals when providing care.
5. Have Travel Insurance
One of the most critical aspects of preparedness is comprehensive travel insurance covering medical emergencies. Before your trip, review your insurance policy to understand what is covered and how to file a claim if needed. Travel insurance can help alleviate the financial burden of medical treatment abroad and ensure you receive the care you require.
6. Know the Location of Nearby Hospitals/Clinics
This is one piece of advice I often forget to follow. Research the locations of nearby hospitals, clinics, or urgent care centres in advance. Familiarize yourself with their addresses and contact information. You can use travel guides, maps, or smartphone apps. Having this information readily available can save precious time during an emergency, as you can quickly provide the location to emergency services.
7. Stay Connected
Keep your mobile phone charged and carry a charger or power bank while travelling. It’s essential to ensure that you have a reliable means of communication. This includes calling local emergency services and contacting family members or travel companions. Having a charged phone and access to communication is crucial for coordinating assistance and support during an emergency.
8. Travel with a Companion
While solo travelling is becoming more popular and manageable, it does come with added risks. Consider travelling with a companion whenever possible, especially if you have underlying health concerns. A travel companion can provide valuable assistance and emotional support during a medical emergency. They can help communicate with medical professionals, provide comfort, and assist with logistical matters. Having someone you trust by your side can make a significant difference in managing a medical crisis while travelling.