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No two days are ever the same at We Assist (TID’s Emergency Assistance team in Sydney), every time the phone rings they have to be prepared to manage situations from lost passports to complex medical cases, and sadly sometimes death. The team members are trained to handle these extreme situations, but there’s only so much that training can do, in the end the service relies on the intelligence and compassion of the team members.
Recently one of our team had to manage a very difficult and stressful case; a couple on holiday when one of them died suddenly. As Head of Emergency Assistance Lisa Fryar explains it was handled with such care that the traveller sent flowers and a “thank you” card.
(We have removed names to protect the privacy of family members and loved ones at this terrible time for them.)
In July 2017 we received a call from a TID traveller who was in the Maldives to let us know her partner had suddenly passed away.
Team member Katie (above giving the peace sign) took the phone call in the early hours one Wednesday morning, the traveller was distressed while trying to find a way to explain what had happened. They had been planning on a special dinner that night and as she was getting ready, he went for a walk. Sadly, he never returned.
Katie’s approach was of utmost kindness; she explained clearly how we could help and what the next steps would be. Katie arranged for the traveller’s belongings to be packed up and taken to another room away from the beach, and then maintained constant contact with her and Australian consular officials.
Katie’s handover to her colleagues between shifts was detailed and accurate which allowed for no confusion between the case managers, as well as keeping everyone up to date on the complex repatriation of mortal remains from a remote area.
As a team, we then arranged to bring the deceased home to Australia via Colombo and return the traveller home to her family. She was so overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion extended to her after such a horrific event by Katie, Sue and the team, that she took the time to send flowers and card.
This is what makes working in emergency assistance rewarding; being able to assist a traveller at such an incredibly painful time in their life.
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