Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Who you gonna call? Forget Ghostbusters.

Forget 9-1-1.

And, while you’re at it, forget the St. Bernard with the brandy barrel strapped to its neck.

In this era of global everything – including peril – you’re going to want to call Global Rescue, a Boston-based outfit that specializes in, well, global rescue. (I always wanted to work for a company with such clear positioning. My favorite marketing message of all time was on a van I used to see regularly on my Route 128 commute. The tagline read simply: We clean blinds.)

But before you call Ghostbusters Global Rescue, keep in mind that it’s a Members Only organization. You pay a membership fee based on whether you want medical coverage or medical plus security; whether you’re an individual, family, student, or business; and how long you’re going to be in need of a global rescue. But if you’re not a member, don’t come whining to them when you find yourself in a dangerous situation. It’s too late, baby, now, it’s too late.

Mostly, I make it a habit to stay out of dangerous places, but you never know. Just because I’m not planning an apartment swap with pals in Damascus any time soon, doesn’t mean that something dire couldn’t happen. That’s because:

The world is a dangerous place. Whether it's a car accident, heart attack, broken limb, infectious disease, natural disaster, sectarian conflict or other emergency event or threat of bodily harm, Global Rescue provides our members the ability to control dangerous and difficult situations…If you need to be rescued from a dangerous situation, our special operations trained operators will get you out. (Source: Global Rescue About.)

Other than an occasional bout of food poisoning – don’t eat raw seafood at an outdoor café in Berlin is now one of my travel mantras – my travel has been pretty uneventful.

Oh, sure, we were almost “stuck” in Paris a few years ago by that volcano in Iceland.

And we once spent six hours on the ground at Shannon waiting for the mechanics to okay an Aer Lingus flight that had been struck by lightning.

But none of those events required rescue.

If you were going to travel to someplace a bit funky, however, signing up for the Global Rescue services might be well worth your while.

Who wouldn’t want a Navy SEAL speeding to your rescue, as opposed to, say, a speeding cab driver who doesn’t speak English and who doesn’t know the secret safe way to get to the airport (where, in any case, a private jet wouldn’t be waiting for you to begin with)?

And not just any Navy SEAL:

The senior member of the operations security team is a former Navy SEAL who sometimes paddleboards to work from Hingham — that’s a 2 ½-hour trek in good weather. (Source: Boston Globe article, on the Global Rescue site.)

Well, I used to work with a guy who rowed solo across the Bay of Fundy just for fun, but who commutes to downtown Boston from Hingham on a paddleboard? Yikes!

But I always say that a Navy SEAL who can paddleboard from Hingham to Boston is someone I’d rather see coming to my rescue than a flabby, wheezing, pasty-faced nerd with his shirttail hanging out.

But whether you’re front line or back office, fitness is important at Global.

Even the employees in retail sales and corporate accounts participate in regular workouts on the Greenway in front of the Boston headquarters. On a recent morning, a group of six workers ran sprints with 80-pound sandbags, swung kettle bells, and did push-ups.

Kettle bells? Maybe that’s why the Global Rescue worker reviews on Glassdoor are mixed.

Business for Global Rescue is quite strong:

At a time when companies are sending employees to every corner of the globe and adventure travelers are seeking thrills in droves, Global Rescue’s evacuation and medical assistance services are in great demand. The prevalence of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and civil uprisings also means travelers are more likely to find themselves in crisis.

“You start collecting the data and looking at the direction all these numbers are going in, and there’s kind of a disturbing parity,” said Dan Richards, the former private equity investor who started Global Rescue in 2004. “We’re responding to a need that is real and growing.”

And, of course, that “disturbing parity” (whatever that means) is  likely to show up in both likely and not so likely locations.

Richards’ outfit conducts more than 1,000 operations a year. It has responded to coup attempts in Mali and Madagascar, terror attacks in India, and the 2011 tsunami in Japan. A few weeks ago, Global Rescue evacuated two mountain climbers via helicopter in Switzerland.

A couple of years ago, when Egypt first blew up, Middlebury College had Global Rescue successfully take a group of its students out of harm’s way. (Bet that Egypt is no longer a study abroad option.)

And sometimes Global Rescue just saves a mom from having to get on a plane and fly out to Colorado when her 18-year-old son breaks a leg in a ski race.  Instead of having to get into a full flutter, the family was able to tap Global Rescue.

The company had Johns Hopkins specialists review [Liam] Mulhern’s X-rays, then sent a paramedic from Boston to Colorado to deal with his medications and plane tickets and accompany him on his return flight to Logan Airport.

If the family hadn’t been Global Rescue members, Mulhern said: “My mother certainly would have been on the first plane to Colorado.”

Well, if that’s not the ultimate in outsourcing. (Global Rescue as metaphorical wet nurse.)

But it’s one thing to hop (or not hop) on a flight to Colorado to take care of your son who’s hit a patch of ice on a double black diamond slope. Quite another to get saved from a tsunami or the Arab spring.

Who you gonna call?

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