Meet the “Ops” – the people who make our medical transports tick

If you read our recent blog on patient repatriations, “Who’s working on your medical transport?”, you’ll know that every medical journey involves a lot of different people working together to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Meet the “Ops” – the people who make our medical transports tick

The epicentre of each transport is what we call the “Ops Team”. This is the group of repatriation specialists who act as your first contact when you call EMS. But they do a whole lot more than that too. We asked Arjun Menon, one of the experts in our Dubai office, to tell us more.

What exactly is the Ops Team, Arjun?

Hi! Ops stands for Operations. The Ops Team is involved in your case right from the start and well beyond the end of the transportation. Basically, we are the first and only point of contact for our clients.

Where are you based?

Our main headquarters for EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation B.V. is in The Netherlands, and our Global Operations Office is in Dubai, UAE. So we operate from two time zones. I’m personally based in the Dubai office.

What happens when a customer first calls you?

When you call, you’ll be put straight through to one of our specialists. They’ll start by collecting the key details about your patient’s medical situation. Then they’ll discuss the best available options with you. That might be travelling on a regular flight with a Medical Escort, for example, or flying with a medical team on a Private Jet. Then we create a free quote for the different services.

What happens next?

From that point on, Ops will guide you through the entire process and provide advice that’s in your patient’s interest. Once the transportation is confirmed, we handle all the necessary logistics, documents and correspondence. Our aim is to provide the smoothest possible transportation – no stone is left unturned in making sure that happens! As the transport proceeds, we’ll also be keeping you, your friends, and your family members up to date with timely emails. Our primary objective is end-to-end assistance from the beginning to the final patient handover – and afterwards too.

Can customers call you during the repatriation itself?

Absolutely. Our Ops Team are always very happy to help with any queries and concerns. We’re available on WhatsApp as well if you’d like to have a quick conversation with us. We can help you with all the information you need about your patient’s repatriation. You can even talk to us on a video chat if you prefer to speak face-to-face.

What advice would you give someone who’s considering whether to use a repatriation company?

Patient repatriations are challenging situations – not just in terms of the medical aspects but the operational and bureaucratic needs (e.g. the travel permissions and documents) that have to be fulfilled too so the transport can go smoothly. Although it’s sometimes possible to repatriate a sick patient without using repatriation specialists, it’s highly advisable to not leave anything to chance. We believe patients are best served by getting full support and backup from a professional international repatriation company like EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation. We have more than a decade of operations experience across numerous countries and missions; I think our diplomatic relations and our extensive medical network really speak to our ability to support any kind of patient, wherever they are, whatever they need.

Does your role continue once the journey is underway?

Certainly. Our responsibility doesn’t end once the transportation has started. We’re in regular touch with our different teams, taking updates on the situation and checking on the patient’s progress. Our state-of-the-art ambulances are equipped with geo-tracking systems which enable us to pinpoint their locations. We are always monitoring and available for guidance.

Are you ever involved with the patient’s arrival or aftercare?

Yes. We are involved with the destination home or hospital well before the patient’s arrival. In an ideal situation, we assist with securing a bed in the hospital or clinic and continue liaising with them while the transport is ongoing. The receiving facility / destination will be told about our arrival time and our patient’s needs. We then provide a detailed handover to ensure that no medical information is left out. Finally, we’ll also reach out to our clients a day or two after the repatriation has completed, to check on the patient’s needs and to collect essential feedback to improve our services.

What are the most common questions people ask you?

We get asked all kinds of questions! But some of the most common are things like:

  • Is a doctor or a nurse available on the flight? (Answer: Yes – depending on your needs, we can provide a doctor, nurse, paramedic or a team of medics to travel with your patient)
  • How many co-passengers can travel along? (It depends on the type of transport you’re taking, but we can almost always take one passenger with us – and up to eight on a long-range private jet)
  • How often will we receive updates regarding the transportation? (We’ll send you updates at regular intervals during the journey, though of course you can contact us directly whenever you need to as well. You can read more about this in our recent article, “How we keep you updated during a loved-one’s transport”)

Have you had any particularly challenging cases this year?

Every case is challenging and unique. There have been plenty of extremely challenging cases and difficult situations during our repatriations. One such case was when a patient was critically ill and had to be intubated prior to the flight taking off. The patient’s condition was deteriorating as time was passing and he had a long journey ahead, across the Atlantic Ocean. Our medical crew on board the flight completed the necessary medical procedures at the airport and were then able to stabilize him prior to the flight. The entire journey was challenging and stressful, but thanks to the team’s extensive experience with transporting critically-ill patients, they were able to handle the situation at hand and successfully complete the repatriation. Due to the critical care provided beforehand and onboard the aircraft, the patient survived the journey and recovered fully.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

Probably the fact that no two days are ever the same! Every day is filled with fresh challenges to understand and solve. But being able to assist individuals and families at these really challenging times is something we all look forward to on the Ops Team. We often have to make quick decisions as events unfold, but we have a wonderfully experienced team that knows how to handle them. Every case is unique, so we have to be ready to think on our feet. But at the end of the day, it’s always worth it – getting patients safely to their destination, and seeing how much relief and happiness it brings to their loved ones, makes the job feel incredibly worthwhile.

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