Even having more than 100 on-the-ground personnel worldwide doesn’t prevent the occasional scheduling conflict.
And that’s exactly what happened recently when Tangiers International was instructed to handle the medical cases for two civilian contractors in Japan and South Korea respectively.
In Japan, a US national had fallen ill and required immediate medical treatment. Tangiers’ agent, an Australian living in the East Asian country, was dispatched.
The agent immediately booked a flight from her home on the island of Okinawa to the patient’s hospital in Osaka.
Being on the ground allowed her to speak directly to medical staff, assess the situation for possible pitfalls, offer crucial reassurance to the patient and ensure there were no obstacles to treatment.
Senior case manager for Tangiers Damir Junicic said: “We activated our agent who went straight to the hospital to get some insight into the condition.
“She spoke to doctors and nurses and introduced herself to the patient, essentially letting them know ‘We are here to take care of you’. It can be frightening, when you’re a foreigner and you’re stuck in a foreign hospital.”
However, her job was far from finished.
Another case came in. This time to handle the out-patient treatment of another US national at a hospital a couple hours south of the South Korean capital Seoul. This civilian contractor had been injured while working in Iraq and had opted to seek treatment in South Korea.
Tangiers International has a dedicated agent based in South Korea who would normally deal with all cases there. However, with that agent tied up on another case, it was imperative to find a replacement.
Our agent in Japan booked the next available flight from Osaka to Seoul and immediately headed to the hospital to rendezvous with the second patient.
Again, she liaised with medical staff, ensured the patient was kept in the loop and made sure treatment would be administered as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Finally, after three days of travel, she boarded her final flight back home to Okinawa.
The case demonstrates the extraordinary lengths Tangiers’ agents go to in order to ensure medical assessment and treatment go without a hiccup.
It also highlights the versatility of Tangiers’ agents who have to be able to switch between languages, customs and the idiosyncrasies of different countries’ medical systems at a moment’s notice.
The agent, a native English speaker who is proficient in both Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, was able to navigate the medical bureaucracy in both countries, bringing peace of mind to two patients.
Damir said: “The agent did a really good job. She covered both cases in 48 hours. I used to be an agent so I can tell you, it’s really challenging sometimes.
“You’re moving around from place to place. You’re dealing with, sometimes, difficult personnel so your interpersonal skills have to be really high.
“And of course, there are big cultural differences between different nations. The ways hospitals operate, the bureaucracy behind it all – our agents have the skills to navigate all of these things.”