During the last month global travel risk management and international medical and security assistance provider, Healix International, has been working closely with clients around the world to bring their employees and students home before borders closed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. With the situation changing rapidly, and differing vastly between countries and regions, Healix used its international network of experts to help clients navigate the crisis and repatriate their people located overseas, before it was too late and international travel became impossible.
For example, the University of Western Australia (UWA), contacted the Healix Global Security Operations Centre to assist with the repatriation of 160 students and staff members from around the world. Evacuees were spread across almost 20 countries, many deployed on fieldwork in isolated areas away from transport hubs, many with underlying medical conditions and many more having spouses and dependents requiring simultaneous repatriation.
Mike Webb, CEO of Healix International commented: “Managing this volume of evacuations can be challenging at the best of times, but with the additional complications of COVID-19-related travel disruption and border closures, there was a particular need for an efficient, well co-ordinated response. Of course, this is what Healix is built for and where our network excels. Some of those we were bringing home had non-COVID-19 medical conditions which had to be carefully considered when deciding on the best way to repatriate them, for which the input of Healix’s team of doctors, nurses and aeromedical specialists was invaluable.
“Our international team worked closely together to navigate unique and exceptional challenges such as the varying degrees to which different countries had been impacted by the virus to date, obtaining necessary medical clearances, and finding flight routes through countries that were still permitting transit. To add to the challenge, every hour new border restrictions and flight cancellations were being announced – we had never experienced anything quite like it, yet the entire team rose to the challenge and showed huge skill and dedication which led to full repatriation of all those requiring homeward travel, and ongoing support for those who opted to stay where they are.”
During the mass repatriation Healix experienced several occasions where evacuees’ flights were cancelled. In one case a major airline suspended all flights after an evacuee had already undertaken the first leg of their journey. However, because the Healix intelligence team were constantly monitoring each individual case, they were able to make alternative arrangements whenever necessary.
By providing timely updates, assessments and forecasting to the operations team, Healix was able to overcome these hurdles. Through a combination of commercial and charter flights, Healix repatriated all evacuees to their country of residence or origin.
The University of Western Australia’s Risk Management Team added: “We were impressed with the speed Healix was able to mobilise support for our staff and students across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The range of resources Healix deployed showed an involved and connected network across the globe, providing direct hands-on support to our travellers, embassy support and efficient global communication.
“Communication back to UWA was consistently of exceptional standard. And updates by email and telephone as required ensured we were always informed of the current situation in a changing environment. Healix’s transition and handover between on call contacts was seamless and we always felt assured in getting the same high level of service regardless of the hour.”
Mike Webb concluded: “These types of cases are where the Healix Global Security Operations Centre thrives and adds real value to a client’s risk management team. Although the global pandemic itself is an unprecedented event, we are well versed in undertaking evacuations and repatriations, supporting our clients with decisive, proactive and intelligence-led action which is also cost effective. We were delighted to have played a role in reuniting our clients with their families and friends before travel restrictions made it impossible to do so. And for those who have opted to remain in-country, Healix continues to provide medical and operational advice and support as required.”