Healix conducts large scale evacuations during COVID-19 crisis

Coronavirus Evacuations
Joe Jegat

Joe Jegat
Regional Security Coordinator

Claire Gerken
Regional Security Coordinator

The current COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation and our advice is under regular review. To see our latest recommendations to employers and travellers, click here.

The rapidly evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to cause disruption across the globe and at Healix International we have been working around the clock to help our clients navigate the crisis. As the pandemic spread from China to the rest of the world, governments started to ramp up their responses with aggressively implemented travel and operating restrictions.

A number of our clients were quick to react, none more so than in the higher education sector where they had the foresight to identify the trajectory of the crisis and the imperative to ensure that their staff and students were brought home before the restrictions made it impossible to do so. One of these clients, the University of Western Australia (UWA), contacted our Global Security Operations Centre (GSOC) to assist with the repatriation of 160 students and staff members from around the world. 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-coordinated response.

The evacuees were spread across almost 20 countries, many deployed on field-work in isolated areas away from transport hubs. Some were in countries already heavily-impacted by COVID-19, where we had to navigate additional challenges such as obtaining medical clearances and finding flight routes through countries that were still permitting transit. Others had non-COVID-19 medical conditions to take into consideration, for which the input of Healix’s medical assistance team of doctors, nurses and aeromedical specialists was invaluable. There were also evacuees with spouses, dependants and unique visa requirements to take into consideration; while every hour new border restrictions and flight cancellations were being announced.

It is impossible to plan for every scenario when conducting large evacuations, especially with such unprecedented levels of disruption. On several occasions evacuees’ flights were cancelled; one, for example, when a major airline suspended all flights after our evacuee had already undertaken the first leg of their journey. In all such cases however, our intelligence team were constantly monitoring each individual task, trying to stay one step ahead. By providing timely updates, assessments and forecasting to the operations team we were able to overcome these hurdles.

In the end, through a combination of commercial and charter flights, we were able to repatriate all evacuees to their country of residence or origin, or support them to stand fast in their current location if they opted to do so.

Feedback from the UWA’s Risk Management Team -“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.”

The Healix GSOC excels in challenging cases like these and is able to add real value to a client’s risk management team. We are well versed in undertaking such tasks, with an appreciation of clients’ needs for 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 it was too late to do so. For those who have opted to remain in-country, Healix will continue to provide medical and operational advice and support as required. There is still a lot to do.

For a confidential discussion on your risk management needs, or to understand more about Healix’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us at enquiries@healix.com.

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