On February 10, Pat Reightley, pilot for CP Management, began feeling heartburn-like symptoms after landing a Bombardier Global 5000 in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. After walking to the store for over-the-counter medications, Reightley began experiencing difficulty breathing, elevated perspiration, and severe chest pain. Uncertain with the location and quality of nearby healthcare facilities, he returned to his hotel room and slept for nearly twenty hours. After waking, Reightley attempted a few minutes in the gym where the symptoms became impossible to ignore.
As an employee of CP Management, Reightley had access to Remote Medical International’s Topside Assistance, a 24/7 telemedicine service that provides members with comprehensive medical advice and logistical support worldwide.
“[RMI Medical Coordination Specialist] Teal Harbin didn’t miss a beat,” said Reightley. “She was very calm, collected, reassuring, and professional. I gave her the particulars, and she had a doctor from George Washington University (GWU) on the phone in under twenty seconds.”
As a practicing paramedic, Harbin understands the importance of calm yet immediate action in the face of medical emergencies. According to Harbin, Reightley was undecided about seeking medical attention but the description of his symptoms detailed a major cardiac event, which caused Harbin to escalate the case to GWU.
“GWU and RMI understand the limits and capabilities of remote areas,” said Harbin. “Together, we were able to assess the best course of action in a part of the world that is otherwise difficult to navigate from a medical emergency standpoint.”
While Reightley spoke with the GWU physician, Harbin utilized an online database of international medical facilities to locate the nearest and most reliable cardiac facility. Without an appropriate option in the immediate area, Harbin quickly organized medical transport out of Malaysia and into Singapore where Reightley could receive advanced care. Harbin contacted a Singaporean ambulance company, coordinated border crossing logistics, and called ahead to Singapore General Hospital to alert the staff of his arrival.
“Within fifteen seconds of talking to the GWU physician, he told me that an ambulance was en route and a hospital had been selected,” said Reightley. “I was relieved that I was going to a hospital that had been carefully selected because I didn’t know what kind of care I would have received nearby.”
“In any medical situation, time is your enemy,” said Harbin, “but when it comes to the heart, time is tissue. We made sure to get him to a hospital with all of the necessary capabilities to avoid a second transfer.”
In response to Reightley’s request, Harbin contacted his wife and informed her of the situation. “It’s never easy to receive the news that someone you love is being sent to a hospital in a foreign country,” said Harbin. “I calmly explained the details, answered her questions, and made sure she was okay.”
Within five minutes of arriving to the hospital, a cardiologist reviewed Reightley’s blood work, EKG, and vitals testing and determined that he was having a significant cardiac event. Harbin maintained contact with Pat’s care providers to ensure that he was receiving proper treatment.
“Part of my job is to prepare for the worst,” said Harbin. “While [Reightley] was being treated, I organized back-up plans that included sending a medical representative, additional hospital transfers, or medical transport back to the United States.”
Fortunately, according to Reightley, “the right choice was made.” He reported that he was impressed with the care that he received and stated that the medical care and bedside manner was very professional.
Prior to discharge, Harbin found Reightley a hotel in the area and relayed all information along to his wife. To ensure seamless care upon his return home to the United States, Harbin linked Reightley’s doctor in Singapore with a GWU physician who passed the details of his case onto Pat’s primary doctor in Washington State.
“Contacting RMI Topside Assistance may have very well saved our employee’s life,” said CP Management Chief Pilot Tim Lawson. “Everyone in the company receives invaluable peace of mind from RMI’s medical support services, and we are grateful for their expertise.”
RMI is happy to report that Reightley regained his FAA medical clearance last week and completed his first flight back on June 24.
“Being able to communicate with RMI and U.S.-based medical care made all of the difference,” said Reightley. “Everyone stepped up to the plate, and I am very thankful.”