Help for distressed Indian globetrotter now a phone call away

August 8th, 2010 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

By James Jose
New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Whether it is a businessman who wants to know if it is safe to visit certain cities in Mexico or a tourist in Tokyo who suspects he has fractured his ankle, help is not far thanks to a service available to the Indian globe trotter.

The London and Singapore-based International SOS says its medical and security service promises corporates and tourists an emergency helpline service like the 911 in the US even in those parts of the globe where such assistance is tardy and hard to comy by.

Security advisories are part of the deal.

“When you travel outside the country, what is usually not a crisis at home can turn into a nightmare,” said Laurent Sabourin, group managing director of International SOS. “This is where we come in,” Sabourin told IANS.

The company said its operations span 70 countries with 66 percent of Fortune 500 firms availing themselves of its services, backed by a team of 6,000 employees, over 900 full-time physicians and more than 200 security specialists.

“All you need to do is to give our alarm centre a call, and we will get in touch with the local authorities or where such services are not present, in fact, arrange to get the person to the nearest medical facility,” Sabourin said.

Such a service can indeed be life-saving for executives and travellers who are present in regions of conflict or which are so remote that medical help is almost always out of bounds.

International SOS’s New Delhi alarm centre received over 90,000 calls during the last financial year from “in trouble” foreign nationals, ranging from the trivial toothache to more serious cases.

Tanguy de Grenier de Lassagne, country general manager of International SOS, says during the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai the company’s alarm centre and operatives calmed not only many clients but also other foreigners stuck in the terror-hit hotels.

“We catered to not only getting our members to safety, to hospitals, but also helped a lot of foreign nationals based on specific request from their missions,” said Lassagne.

Now, with the advent of the Indian transnational corporations and their expanding span, human resource managers at these conglomerates, have to make sure their senior executives are safe whichever country they travel to.

Its client roster, the officials said boasts the crème de la crème of India Inc, but declined to name them individually due to confidentiality clauses on their pacts.

“People are not very much aware of the conditions in foreign countries. With Indian companies now spreading their geographical reach, they feel the need to take care of their people who are travelling abroad,” said Sabourin.

He said such services are a big hit in many countries with even governments of countries like the US, Britain and Japan, as also UN agencies, soliciting assistance for diplomats or officials travelling to places where conditions are difficult, to say the least.

“Globalisation is main driver of our success. We were not affected even by recession. In fact companies that were eearlier hesitant to expand out of home markets were forced to do so, and we are there to help in advising on local security conditions.”

(James Jose can be contacted at james.jose@ians.in and biz@gmail.com)

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