Trekking in high altitudes at a remote location has some risks involved too. In your trek, you, unfortunately, might suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness or sustain injuries that leaves you unable to trek further. In these conditions, there are several evacuation options to help you feel better. In severe situations like Edema, you can call in a helicopter evacuation to fly you to the nearest hospital and then to a major metropolitan hospital in Kathmandu.
Types of Emergency Evacuations
There are several emergency evacuation ways to ensure trekkers health and safety. If you suffer from slight symptoms of altitude sickness, don’t push yourself to trek further altitudes before acclimatising. In cases when you need to be evacuated from high altitudes, there are some ways you can be rescued.
- Helicopter Evacuation: A helicopter evacuation is the most common and also the only viable form of rescue. It is the fastest and convenient way of transport to ensure the health and safety of life of trekkers. In case you develop severe AMS in high altitudes and start to suffer from pulmonary and cerebral oedema, a helicopter emergency evacuation is the best option to descend to lower elevations and get medical attention quickly. Many agencies provide service of helicopter evacuation. You can contact the Emergency Assistance Team at first in case of difficulty and if you need emergency evacuation.
- Donkey and Mule Evacuation: Helicopter evacuation is expensive and is not feasible if you are suffering from minor sickness and injuries. If you have recently developed symptoms of altitude sickness and wish to descend to lower altitudes to acclimate better, a helicopter evacuation is not the best option.
In such cases, you can either descend by walking yourself with one of the porters we provide. He will take you to the nearest tea house and help with acclimatising better. If you don’t feel like walking, then you can traverse down on the back of a mule or a donkey. You will ride on the back of the animal and reach lower elevations where you cure altitude sickness.
- Porter Back Ride Evacuation: Another form of emergency evacuation is on the backs of local porters. In cases when a quick rescue descends is necessary, you can ask to arrange for a piggyback ride to lower altitudes. Some porters can be arranged to carry you in case of difficulty and injuries.
Things to Do in an Emergency Evacuation
There are some cardinal things you must follow during an emergency evacuation. Emergency evacuation is the utmost form of evacuation done in need of critical care. Any negligence can lead to severe consequences like life-threatening oedema and even deaths in some cases. Some things you must do during an emergency evacuation in Trekking are:
- Contact Emergency Assistance Team: The first thing you must do if you need a quick rescue is to contact the emergency assistance team of your travel agency. This will simplify the process of guaranteeing payment of the insurance company to the helicopter company. Reaching your emergency assistance team is the fastest route to get the chopper started and come to your rescue. Helicopters fly to rescue operations only after being guaranteed payment by the insurance company. Unless the insurance company obliges to pay the cost of evacuation, no chopper will operate for your rescue. So, to get quick rescue without worrying about payment details, contact your travel agency’s emergency assistance team who will arrange the payment process as fast as possible and send in a chopper for your rescue.
- Give details of your medical history: It is very crucial to keep details about your medical report and medications you are taking in a readily available location such as pockets of your day pack. The doctors must need to know about physical conditions, medications you are currently taking and about your allergies to other medicines and substances. This helps in your treatment of altitude sickness and other injuries suffered during the trek.
- Stay Calm and Composed: It is crucial to stay calm and focused during an emergency evacuation. If you have a panic attack, acute mountain sickness will affect you even further which is more risky to your life. Remaining calm and disciplined make it easy for rescuers to do their work systematically and assist you in the best possible manner.
- Communication: Communication is crucial in an emergency evacuation while trekking. If you know of developing numerous symptoms of sickness and injuries, communicate with your trek guides as well as trekking companions about your discomforts. Also, make known your friends and guide about any medical allergies, special conditions, and treatments you suffer. Each minute details about your health conditions will later be useful during medical procedures. Also, keep your insurance details with you and communicate those details with the rescue operators. You need to give the following information to emergency assistance number:
- Your name and address
- Your policy number and company you booked your insurance through
- Start date of your trip
- Your Exact location and details about your illness and injuries
- Your contact details and a phone number where they can reach you
Things to avoid in Emergency Evacuation
- Lie about your physical conditions: Many tourists after reaching the preferred destination lie about developing difficulties and report unable to trek. They request emergency evacuation and descend to lower elevations quickly for their personal gain. You must keep in mind that the chopper you asked for rescue by making a false scenario could be used in the relief of an actual person who might be actually suffering from severe difficulties.
- Sleep Overnight: If you feel you are slowly developing several symptoms of altitude sickness, then don’t wait to descend to lower altitudes quickly or contact the travel guide for further support. If you think you will sleep overnight and ask for rescue the next day, you could not be more wrong. Don’t sleep the night at the altitude if you feel nausea, breathlessness, and fatigue. Normal symptoms of AMS can quickly develop into cerebral and pulmonary oedema. So, it is better to ask for emergency evacuation as quickly as possible or descend to lower altitudes to ease the difficulty. Don’t sleep the night in the hope of acclimatising and getting rescued the next day, if you are in need of rescue, make the decision immediately. An early decision is always better than a late one.
- Forging false documents: Tourists in an attempt to save time for other adventures, are encouraged by porters and guides alike to create false reports that show signs of mountain sickness and ask for emergency helicopter evacuation. Travel guides also receive a commission from the transaction. You must refrain from such illicit activity.
Problems of Helicopter Emergency Evacuation in Nepal
Rescue of trekkers from trek routes is a serious issue in Nepal. Helicopter evacuation is the only quick mode of transport evacuation if your face severe discomforts during the trek. You must take caution about the situation you are in and whether you really need emergency evacuation or not. Even if guides urge you to call for a helicopter evacuation, be your own judge and assess you condition and then take further actions.
A doctor in Kathmandu reported of all the mountaineers and trekkers choppered to Kathmandu in rescue evacuation, only 20 per cent were suffering from any sort of difficulty and mountain sickness. Many tourists in the past have scammed insurance companies and defaulted payments.
As a result, insurance companies have raised premiums on the rescue activities making a rescue operation in Nepal the second most expensive rescue in the world. The excess cost falls on the really sick people who genuinely need relief. So only opt for the helicopter rescue only when you are really in discomfort and feel you cant trek any further.
District Hospitals and Public Health Posts in the Treks
There are district hospitals and public health posts in nearby settlements and village development community area. In remote places, there is sub-post office that provides medical assistance. If you suffer mild injuries, sprains, and breaks, you can get checked in public health post and sub-health posts. For a severe sickness like vomiting, severe cold, dysentery, flu, you can check into district hospitals. There are 65 district hospitals in Nepal. You can reach nearby district hospitals and get necessary minor treatment on sickness and injuries.
For further queries and information regarding Do’s and Dont’s during an Emergency Evacuation in Trekking, you can visit our website here. You can also ask us your questions about our services, our work experience and any other details you want to know about our past work here.
You can also check about other trek packages in our blog.