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Emergency surgery and air ambulance repatriation

Skydiving accident in Switzerland during backpacking trip

Total claim: $139,469

Emma was on a three-month trip backpacking through Europe with her best friend when she decided to go tandem skydiving with an experienced instructor in Switzerland. During the dive, Emma’s instructor lost consciousness when the ropes for the main chute and the safety chute twisted around his neck—neither chute inflated properly meaning that Emma and her instructor fell too quickly and hit the ground at speed.

Paramedics at the scene put Emma on a spinal board and moved her into a helicopter, which flew her to a hospital in Bern for emergency treatment. Her medical team found that Emma had fractured her back, her L1 vertebrae and her pelvis. The fracture to her L1 was a compression injury which meant that the vertebrae was not severed, so there was a possibility that Emma would recover to walk again.

Immediately after Emma’s accident, the skydiving school contacted our team in Australia. Cover-More quickly arranged for Emma’s mother and sister to fly to Switzerland to be by her side. We also booked accommodation for them close to the hospital so that they could be with Emma as much as possible.

Emma underwent two serious spinal surgeries to mend the damage to her vertebrae and reset her pelvis. Once Emma was stable and medically fit to fly, we arranged an air ambulance to medically repatriate Emma home to Sydney for specialist treatment and rehabilitation at the spinal unit of Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital. Emma stayed at Prince of Wales for three months recovering, rehabilitating and learning to walk again.

“Flight Centre recommended that I get travel insurance with Cover-More. I knew that I had to get it, but you never think you’re going to use it. If it wasn’t for Cover-More I don’t know how I would have returned to Australia. They paid for my two surgeries and my hospital stay, as well as the (air ambulance) flight home to Australia. I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world. When you’re told you might never walk again and then you can… I have a whole new perspective on life.” Emma Carey


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