International SOS

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International SOS
International SOS logo with tagline.png
Founded 1985
Headquarters London, UK
No. of locations Global
Founder(s) Arnaud Vaissié and Pascal Rey-Herme
Employees 11,000
Slogan(s) Worldwide reach Human touch

International SOS provides medical, clinical, and security advice and assistance to organisations with international travellers and/or operations. A privately owned company, it has over 10,000 corporate clients and serves many Fortune Global 100 and Fortune 500 companies.[1] Not to be confused with the similarly-named Scandinavian company SOS International.

Services include planning and preventive programs, in-country expertise, and emergency response. It has approximately 11,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians and 200 security specialists, and provides support in 89 countries.[2]


International SOS Air Ambulance

International SOS has nine regional centres — in Baku, Beijing, Dubai, Jakarta, London, Paris, Philadelphia, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo — as well as a network of assistance centres. The centres are staffed by physicians, nurses, operations managers, multilingual coordinators and logistics support personnel. The company has dual headquarters in London and Singapore.[3] Approximately 33 percent of the organisation's total workforce are medical professionals.[4] The organisation often uses hospitals accredited by international accreditation groups, such as JCI in Singapore and Trent Accreditation Scheme in Hong Kong. The company has 68,000 providers listed in its network including specialist doctors, hospitals, ambulances, charter aircraft and security providers.[citation needed]


Physician Pascal Rey-Herme and businessman Arnaud Vaissié founded the company (then called AEA International) in 1985 to provide medical assistance services to expatriate communities and international organisations operating in Southeast Asia.[5][6]

Over the following decade, the company grew from its base in Singapore and Indonesia to include operations in Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and mainland China. Clients included oil and gas companies with operations in remote locations.

1998: AEA International acquired International SOS Assistance, creating the largest medical assistance company in the world.[citation needed] For a while, it was known as AEA International SOS, and was renamed International SOS in 1999. The acquisition extended the company into the United States, Russia and Eastern Europe and eventually Africa and the Middle East. Travel safety and security services were added to offerings.

2008: Launched a "strategic alliance" with Control Risks, to offer combined medical and security services[7] and acquired MedAire,[8] a provider of remote medical services for aviation and maritime.

2009: Acquired a majority stake in Abermed, a UK-based provider of occupational health and remote medical services to the energy sector, including specialised services such as hyperbaric medicine, UK-trained rig medics and occupational health services.[citation needed]

2010: Announced a strategic alliance with RMSI, a specialist in the provision of medical services for hostile environments including Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and Pakistan.[citation needed]

2011: Merged with VIPdesk, the North American provider of concierge services, customer care and loyalty programs. Under the terms of the deal, VIPdesk continues to operate as the US-based, wholly owned subsidiary of International SOS, under the leadership of its founders and management. It acquired SMI (Service Médical International), the France-based manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies to the aviation, maritime, and oil industries as well as to various NGOs and international organisations. It acquired SMI, a French medical supply company, launched a joint venture in Brazil with International Health Care, and acquired L.E. West, EMC, Shenton Pharmacy and Nutracare Pharma.

2012: Expanded its China Clinic Network to TEDA, acquires EMSM, a leading concierge and lifestyle company in South Korea and moves its UK headquarters to Chiswick Park, West London.

2013: Acquired SBHT and KBHT in Norway.

2014: In October International SOS announced that for patients with active clinical symptoms of Ebola, "evacuation should not be considered as feasible." This statement was later updated to "may not be achievable if patients have any uncontrolled body fluids, such as vomiting, diarrhoea or bleeding."[9][10]


International SOS has provided medical advice, assistance and travel safety services during and after a number of major incidents.[11]

1998: Evacuation assistance provided during the Jakarta unrest.

2000 Began to provide client support during major sporting events, eventually including the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012); and the 2010 Asian Games.[12]

2003: Provided medical assistance during the SARS outbreak, including utilising a portable medical isolation unit to transport infected patients.[13]

2004: Led emergency medical and security responses to the Boxing Day Tsunami, and provided longer term assistance, including the creation of the North Sumatra Relief Fund.[14]

2005: Medical assistance given in response to Hurricane Wilma.[15]

2008: Provided advice and assistance following the Mumbai terrorist attacks to those directly impacted by the event.[16]

2010: Helped co-ordinate evacuations in the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.[17] Began to offer preventive programs to help companies meet duty of care obligations to employees travelling and working abroad.[18]

2014: In October, during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, International SOS announced they would not transport patients with Ebola symptoms.[19] Medical advice, equipment, and educational resources were provided[to whom?] during the outbreak. An Ebola public-service announcement was also produced and aired throughout West and East Africa.[20][21][22] A team was deployed to the Pacific island nation Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam.[23]

2015: Assisted and provided emergency medical evacuations services for the victims of the Sabah earthquake in Malaysia.[24] Provided evacuation advice and assistance to clients during the Yemen crisis.[25] Launched updated version of Pandemic Information, an online portal featuring information on, and analysis of, emerging infectious disease outbreaks.[26]

International SOS Foundation[edit]

Launched in March 2012, the International SOS Foundation is a registered charity and was started with a grant from International SOS. It is a fully independent, non-profit organization.[citation needed]


International SOS has received the following recognition and awards:


  • EMMA Award for ‘Most Effective Relocation Management Strategy’ and ‘Best Practice in Challenging Locations’ - Forum for Expatriate Management


  • Finalist for Best in Business Travel Technology & Services award, Grand Prix des Lauriers[27]
  • Finalist for Risk Management Product of the Year (Specialised) and Best Use of Technology in Risk Management - CIR Magazine[28]
  • EMMA Award for ‘Best Practice in Challenging Locations’ - Forum for Expatriate Management
  • EMMA Award for ‘Best Thought Leadership- Research or Survey’ (International SOS Foundation) - Forum for Expatriate Management


  • Shortlisted for Best Technological Innovation in Relocation - Re:Locate Awards[29]
  • Best Specialist Business Travel Product/Provider award - Business Travel Awards[30]


International SOS has been listed as a publisher on several academic works covering research into duty of care and travel risk management. Notable publications include works by Professor Dr. Lisbeth Claus[31][32] and ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) International.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Locations
  2. ^
  3. ^ International SOS Assistance Centers Around the World
  4. ^ International SOS Staff: doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, security experts & aviation specialists
  5. ^ Jacobs, E. (2015) The healthcare company that is on constant alert. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  6. ^ Arnott, S. (2010) International SOS: How to avoid turning a crisis into a drama. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  7. ^ Continuity Central - International SOS and Control Risks form joint venture
  8. ^ - MedAire, an International SOS Company, to Deliver New Levels of Medical Assistance
  9. ^ Cohn, Carolyn. "Medical evacuation services balk at flying out Ebola patients". Reuters. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Cohn, Carolyn (October 11, 2014). "UPDATE 1-Medical evacuation services balk at flying out Ebola patients". Reuters. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ Veach, E. (2011) International SOS Uses Its Global Reach. Available at:
  12. ^ International SOS signs agreement with PICC (2010) Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  13. ^ Tsai, S.-H., Tsang, C.-M., Wu, H.-R., Lu, L.-H., Pai, Y.-C., Olsen, M. and Chiu, W.-T. (2004) ‘Transporting Patient with Suspected SARS’, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  14. ^ Tomorrow’s Health & Safety Issue 16 (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  15. ^ BBC (2005) Britons stranded after Wilma hits. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  16. ^ Blitz, R. (2008) Executives seek five-star security. Available at:,Authorised=false.html? (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  17. ^ Sharkey, J. (2010) For Travelers in Danger, Someone to Swoop In. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  18. ^ Levere, J. L. (2015) In Emergencies, Companies Are Turning to Employee-Tracking Services. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  19. ^ Cohn, Carolyn. "Medical evacuation services draw line at flying out Ebola patients". Reuters. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  20. ^ Downey, S. (2014) Ebola & Business Travel: What You Need to Know. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  21. ^ Fry, E. (2014) Business in the hot zone: How one global corporation has managed the Ebola epidemic. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  22. ^ RM Professional (2015) Getting Disasters Right. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  23. ^ "The healthcare company that is on constant alert". Financial Times. 16 April 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  24. ^ LEE, P. (2015) Sabah quake: More bodies recovered and identification process still going on, says MOE. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  25. ^ BBC News (2015) International SOS Regional Security Director Julian Moro on BBC World News. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  26. ^
  27. ^ Shortlists | Business Travel Awards 2015 (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2015)
  28. ^ Risk Management Awards in association with CIR Magazine (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2015)
  29. ^ Magazine, R. (2001) Global Corporate Relocation | Awards | Winners | Awards | Re:locate magazine. Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2015)
  30. ^ Winners 2015 | Business Travel Awards 2015 (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2015)
  31. ^ Claus, L. (2009) Duty of Care of Employers for Protecting International Assignees, their Dependents, and International Business Travelers. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  32. ^ Claus, L. (2011) Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management Global Benchmarking Study. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  33. ^ ACTE International (2010) Every Ash Cloud Has a Silver Lining. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)

External links[edit]