Think it Can't Happen to You? Read This.
The Case For Evacuation Insurance -- A Traveling Sportsman's Nightmare
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by Don Causey, Angling Report President/Publisher
As a traveling sportsman, you have probably heard of an arcane form of insurance known as Medical Evacuation Insurance. Likely as not, though, you do not have such a policy. And that is a mistake so large and important that I urge you to correct it, if not immediately, at least before you venture outside your home country on a trip of any sort, even a trip to Europe, not to mention a fly fishing trip to Chile or Christmas Island.
Why this shrill warning? Let me start at the beginning..
"I woke up falling. My first clear recollection was the sound of a large limb striking the ground, followed by an impact so severe I temporarily lost consciousness."
Many of you know I publish a companion newsletter to The Angling Report. It's called The Hunting Report, and it provides the same kind of information for international hunters that The Angling Report provides for fishermen. To be sure, The Hunting Report is a bit more international than The Angling Report, and it covers some destinations that are more remote and risky than most angling destinations. The difference is in degree, however, not kind. The Kola Peninsula. The Kamchatka Peninsula. the High Arctic. Christmas Island. Los Roques. the Amazon. all come to mind as angling destinations that are as remote and difficult of access as most hunting places.
Actually, though, this focus on remoteness and difficulty of access is beside the point, because the financial and physical danger you face by not having evacuation insurance is every bit as great for anglers who go to the Yucatan and fish out of a hotel there, or tourists who go on cruises in the Caribbean. I'll have more to say on that in a moment..
First, though, a snapshot of the personal nightmare I just experienced. It happened in the west African country of Cameroon, where I was on a hunting trip cum writing assignment in the southern part of the country, on the border of Brazzaville, Congo, a $5,742 plane ride from the major city of Douala, where international air carriers provide service to Europe. Remember that number, $5,742: it is the first of several that will eventually take your breath.
On the afternoon of May 4, 2005, I climbed into a machan (or tree stand), located near a mini-savannah where my professional hunter had spotted large numbers of animal tracks. Our plan was to wait until dark in that machan for game animals to come into the clearing. If none did, we would stay in the machan until the next morning, leaving sometime after full light.
Unfortunately, in the small hours of the morning of May 5, sometime around 3 am, a strong wind broke a limb from a neighboring tree, which crashed across our machan, destroying it and spilling us to the ground. I was asleep when it happened, and I woke up falling. My first clear recollection was the sound of a large limb striking the ground, followed by an impact so severe I temporarily lost consciousness.
On regaining consciousness, I was blindsided by a searing pain in my lower back that rose and fell with what turned out to be uncontrollable muscle spasms originating somewhere near my waist. It was a pain so severe as to be dangerous to your sanity and will to live. And it was hurtling at me, in wave after wave, as I lay on the floor of a remote west African jungle in complete darkness. Making matters worse was a soaking rain that pattered down on every part of your body, soaking you to the bone, hammering your spirit, filling your eye sockets.
Where was everyone else? Where were our guns? My God, what were we going to do?