I few months ago I read this story on Surfline and it really struck a chord. All of these years of surf and adventure travel – solo, with friends, and with my family – and I had never coughed up a few hundred bucks to get solid travel insurance.
Having kids on these trips had encouraged me to up my first aid game, to the extent that I even took the 10-day NOLs Wilderness First Responder course. Additionally, since my wife is a doctor, we always travel with a pretty extensive med kit. However, it’s going to take much more than Neosporin, bandaids, or even a SAM splint if you pile drive headfirst into a reef.
So we come in with pretty good knowledge to deal with many situations and keep people comfortable through minor injuries and illness.
But, ibuprofen can only do so much.
Having something serious happen in a remote area poses a new set of challenges. Backcountry medicine prepares you for the greatest challenge, longer patient care.
In the US and most urban areas in the world, we’ve become accustomed to almost immediate first responder arrival times. In most cities an ambulance will get to you within minutes. Just put some pressure on the bleeding, keep still, and wait for the calvary to arrive.
Even in a smaller country like Costa Rica, with relatively good medical facilities, this time to care could get expanded. And you will probably have to get yourself there.
Further, if you are looking at a long recovery time, you may want (or need) to get into a facility closer to home. As the Surfline article above highlights, this is the part where things can get ugly, and expensive, real quick.