Memorable cases

Nadine Stollenwerk

Team Leader – Travel
ROLAND Assistance

What is your memorable case?

I have been working for the team travel assistance for many years and I always say to new employees that one can write a book after working in our team for a while.

There are often sad and difficult stories from people on their long-awaited holidays who have ended up facing difficulties, including accidents, injuries, sudden illness or even encountered an environmental disaster, such as a tsunami, fire, flood or, more recently, the pandemic. However, my team and I have also come into contact with strange, and sometimes even funny stories.

One of the stories that stuck in my mind happened a couple of years ago. That day, like every morning, I came into work by train and while walking to our office I passed a newspaper stand. I noticed on the front page of the tabloids was a big picture of a leopard attacking a caravan.

I didn’t read the headline at the time, nor did I think any more about it until I arrived at my office and heard about our latest file in Namibia… guess what? A German couple had been attacked by a leopard in their caravan. The couple had spent the night in their caravan in the desert – something which was not permitted. After they fell asleep, they were awoken by something outside scratching at the caravan. The man cautiously opened a small side window and was instantly attacked by the leopard. The leopard bit him. Fortunately, it missed his neck, but ripped off his complete hair and scalp. The man defended himself by pushing both his thumbs into the eyes of the leopard as hard as he could – something he had previously seen on TV.

The leopard, taken by surprise by the counterattack, let go of the man who collapsed onto the floor, bleeding heavily. His wife was so shocked by the aggressive onslaught that she was unable to react at first. She then tried to start the vehicle but unfortunately this was not possible since they needed to leave the caravan to remove the engine immobiliser.

How has being part of ASTRUM helped?

Every day in our job we face many situations where we must decide within minutes how to help the patient and where to transfer them to. Time is ticking – the injuries or diseases are often so serious that we are extremely limited with our options for helping the patient to survive. We are in constant exchange with other ASTRUM members regarding suitable hospitals and repatriation options. Ideally, we will arrange patient poolings where multiple patients are repatriated in the same air ambulance – providing the diagnoses, locations and other requirements match. The ASTRUM medical exchange is very important to us as it gives us the ideal opportunity to learn from each other, work together and find new solutions for our customers.