A global network with a human touch

As a snapshot of a truly globalised world, the daily routine of Jane Hegeler takes some beating.

Tangiers International’s managing director presides over a network which encompasses more than 100 on-the-ground personnel and over 40,000 specialised medical providers operating in 192 of the world’s most volatile or remote countries.

As dawn breaks around the globe, updates begin streaming in from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, North and South America – all requiring attention and an awareness of the sensitive issues at play.

Jane said: “If there are any complications or complaints, I’m the first to hear about them – making sure things are moving along, that we’re where we should be, that there’s no confusion or problems.”

Unsurprisingly, the ability to juggle such a multitude of issues – spanning everything from medical evacuations to claim investigations – stems from a career steeped in international travel and the provision of emergency assistance.

Born in Leicester, England, Jane found herself living in Thailand by her late teens after her father moved the family to the country for work.

Flitting back and forth between the UK and Thailand for a few years, it was the latter country she eventually opted for when she accepted a job at Bangkok Hospital – part of the largest hospital group in the region.

One incident which sticks in her mind is accompanying an Irish-national as he was transported by plane from the Thai island of Koh Samui following a horrific motorcycle crash which had crushed one of his legs.

“My job was to keep this guy talking, to keep him awake, so that when we got him off the aircraft he could be taken straight into surgery,” she explained.

Following later roles with emergency medical assistance companies, Jane finally moved back to Europe before eventually joining the Tangiers team in Malta last year. And it was with this role she discovered the kinship which comes from those whose lives have been spent crossing national borders.

“We’re very much like family, we have a joke and a laugh, but when it comes down to it, we get the job done,“ she explained.

“Most of us are very international people. Certainly among the top management, we have worked and dealt with different nationalities and cultures and been exposed to different troubles, strifes, incidents and accidents.

“Everybody who works with us has got a story to tell. Whether they have been one of our claimants first-hand or they have learnt through family members or friends what it’s like to be in parts of the world where you do not have all of the infrastructure and the support from government and medical facilities.”

The work which Tangiers undertakes means attention to detail is paramount. But so too is an awareness of the various sensitivities involved when dealing with cases involving injury or death in a foreign land.

“You always have to be professional but you also have to put yourself in the situation of the claimant. I think empathy plays a massive part in this. You can do it all by the book but you need the human touch as well,” she added.