MedAire’s response system covers you anywhere, any time, in any situation. We find out about the service trusted by owners all over the world

Happiness is leaving the land way behind astern, taking a comfy seat on the sundeck and feeling that unmatchable sense of freedom coursing through your veins. The human body is no respecter of personal epiphanies, however, and when there is an emergency offshore, matters become a whole lot more pressing. So the careful owner will have arranged some sort of medical coverage, and for many that will mean utilising the services of MedAire or Yacht Lifeline, companies which merged last year, creating a global offering to suit every superyacht owner.

We’re not just talking flying doctors here – members of the comprehensive service get cover from sea to shore, which includes not only emergency medical response, but crew training, the provision of medical kits and pre-cruise advice. For the more adventurous owners cruising close to the world’s trouble-spots, MedAire – through its parent International SOS – can offer guidance on whether particular ports are safe or not, and if they are mostly safe, on which areas of town should be avoided. A yacht owner subscribed to the service benefits from the global reach of the company, whose clients are corporations operating in remote and unstable areas of the world. “The intelligence that comes back to us is from our people on the ground. It’s not second-hand,” says Tony Nicholson, MedAire’s sales director of luxury yachts. “We can filter out disinformation and misinformation.”

Of course, it’s not everyone who’ll be cruising to Mogadishu this summer, but the more unseemly side of modern life can pay a visit almost anywhere, and the service is here to help, even if you’re not on board. “One of our clients was express kidnapped in Mexico. He was very shaken up and two of our people were able to extract him from the hotel room and make sure he got home safely,” says Nicholson. “You can never put a price on peace of mind.”

It’s no surprise that the company claims that over 50% of the top 100 yachts listed by length have some form of MedAire service, and a majority of new builds over 60 metres, with some yards offering it as a package as part of the sales agreement.

Most clients end up with a bespoke package as the yacht’s activities change. If, for example, the yacht charters for a season in an area where guests will be diving, MedAire may advise a completely different regime for oxygen requirements. MedAire’s most favoured offering for superyachts is the Global Med Kit, for any yacht travelling over 150 miles offshore.

Though the contract is with a yacht, the comprehensive service means that the owner, crew and guests are covered even when they are not on board. The majority of cases that MedAire deals with are not emergencies, just typical day-to-day medical queries: someone whose back is aching or who has been coughing for a few days. With owners proving to be increasingly adventurous in their cruising itineraries, so the demand for offshore services is growing – “Antarctica is challenging,” says Nicholson – but with 10,000 staff to call on in its global network, MedAire will always be able to respond.

This is an abridged version of a feature that appeared in SuperYacht World 24 (March/April 2012). Click here to buy the issue for your iPad.

Click through our gallery of images