Be Prepared for Medical Emergencies Abroad

When planning a dive trip to a remote destination, it’s best to do a little research to get an understanding of local emergency capabilities. Unfortunately not every medical facility can provide care for every illness or injury. So what can be done?

An important part of being prepared for emergencies is being a DAN member. Regardless of where or when an emergency takes place, DAN can be instrumental in facilitating medical care and, if needed, evacuation. And having dive accident insurance can defray substantial expenses. With more than 40 years of experience helping divers, DAN takes the guesswork out of emergencies. 

Nadia, a longtime DAN member, was no stranger to international travel, spending several months every year diving or snorkeling. During a recent trip to a remote Pacific Island, Nadia spent a day snorkeling only to wake up the following day with a large, swollen bump behind her ear.

She wasn’t too concerned with the swelling and went to a local pharmacy; the pharmacist thought it might be an ear infection. Nadia was given an antibiotic, but by the end of the day, she was severely fatigued and running a high fever. Late that evening, she had extreme pain where the jaw meets her ear.

Nadia took over-the-counter pain meds throughout the night, but the pain would not subside. Thinking this was far too painful to be an ear infection, she called the DAN emergency hotline. The DAN medic told her to go to the local hospital. Nadia did not think the local doctors on the remote island could do much, so she chose to wait it out.

Two days later with no ease in pain or swelling, Nadia went to the hospital and the local doctor confirmed she did not have an ear infection. With her symptoms worsening, Nadia called DAN from the hospital and she sent them photos of her swollen face and neck. The resources of the local hospital would not be able to properly diagnosis and treat Nadia, so DAN coordinated an evacuation to an Australian hospital for the following day, where she could access CT scans and an ultrasound.

Twenty-four hours later, an Australian medevac plane met Nadia at the nearby airport. The doctor and nurse on board quickly performed an assessment and gave her medications to alleviate the swelling and pain. Once at the hospital, Nadia was examined by a doctor and had her blood tested. From her ultrasound, one of her parotid (salivary) glands was extremely swollen with fluids and she was diagnosed with bacterial parotitis.

Nadia spent four days in the hospital recovering, and DAN continued to check up on her progress each day. Their quick action reminded Nadia of why she was a DAN member.

“Without DAN I would have had to get myself out of this grueling situation, and there is nothing worse than being alone on the road, sick and vulnerable,” said Nadia. “DAN took care of things from the minute I first called them …. You never know what life will throw your way, but DAN is there when you need help dealing with the unknown, especially in remote areas of the world.”

DAN dive accident insurance is available only to DAN members, and it covers accidents and injuries related to diving and many other water sports as well as non-diving-related accidents and injuries. Coverage starts at just US$40/year, and from day one DAN helps take the guesswork out of emergency logistics. Once a member calls the 24/7 hotline, DAN arranges whatever care is needed. Behind the scenes, DAN specialists coordinate medical care and transportation with local agencies, and in dive emergencies, DAN medical staff can even offer consultations to treating physicians who are not familiar with dive medicine.

With its sterling reputation, DAN fully understands the needs of divers and snorkelers. Learn more about the benefits of dive accident insurance and DAN membership.