If you fall on your hiking trip in Bhutan, or get caught in political upheaval during your study abroad, a New Hampshire company has your back. Global Rescue is a business that has evacuated its clients from some of the most dangerous places on earth. Still, not everyone agrees with their philosophy.
In 2012, Allan Lokos was on a small plane in Myanmar after a trip with his wife.
“And apparently, the pilot misjudged where we were, and he began to bring the plane down at least a mile short of where it was supposed to be.”
Shearing through several electrical cables as it came down, the plane burst into flame before it even touched the ground. Lokos and his wife fought their way through the smoke and headed for the emergency exits.
“The problem that we saw there was that to get through that door you were going to have to jump through flames because it was just blazing.”
His wife jumped. When Lokos tried to follow, his foot caught on something and got stuck.
“There I was, standing in the fire, and no way to move.”
Eventually he did get out, but all his clothing was seared off his body and he suffered third degree burns.
After a painful day of waiting, members of the American Embassy helped Lokos and his wife to get to Bangkok. But they weren’t out of the woods yet. The Bangkok hospital didn’t have a burn unit, and the couple didn’t know where to find one.
That’s when they called Global Rescue.
“You’ve reached Global Rescue’s conference line. If you need immediate medical assistance, press zero.”
That day, an employee of the New Hampshire-based rescue company arrived in Bangkok. He guided Lokos and his wife until they were safely home in New York.
“We rescue and evacuate our member from anywhere in the world back to his or her home hospital.”
Dan Richards is CEO and Founder of Global Rescue. After working on Wall Street for ten years, he came back to Lebanon, New Hampshire, where he opened his rescue business. A travel membership, similar to what Lokos and his wife had on their trip to Myanmar, costs $329 dollars a year.
“It’s a little bit like AAA, but not for your car - for your body.”
With offices around the world, Global Rescue deploys its personnel to the site of injury, no matter how remote. They evacuated more than 30 people from Mount Everest just last year. They’ve also helped clients in Haiti and Nepal after devastating earthquakes there. Richards says they’ve even rescued people from political upheaval, such as the Arab Spring.
“I wanted to do something that was about doing good in the world.”
Mark Jenkins is a contributing writer for National Geographic and Writer-in-Residence at the University of Wyoming. He says, “they’re a business, and not a philosophical organization.”
Jenkins is a life-long mountaineer, but often doesn’t buy travel insurance. He says that’s because when there are other people on the mountain who can’t afford a rescue, paying to survive doesn’t feel fair.
“The difficulty obviously arises when affluence gives one person a better chance of survival than another person. But look, hopefully Global Rescue kind of rarely encounters these ethical or moral dilemmas.”
Richards says his employees help as many non-Global Rescue members as they can, but their clients come first. Although they can’t save everyone, he says they do what they can.
“We can do our part, even if it’s in a small way. And we do, every single time.”
As for Allan Lokos, the part Richard's company played in his safety after the plane crash was not small at all. Without Global Rescue, he doesn't know how he would have gotten home.