Joan Sullivan Garrett, Founder, MedAire

In 1985, I founded MedAire to provide upgraded medical kits to the commercial aviation industry, and later the business and private jet sector. At that time, airlines were using first aid kits designed by Johnson & Johnson in 1924, updated in 1950s and nothing since! The FAA was in the process of mandating the contents of first aid kits, which was my opportunity to create a business. At the time, I was a flight nurse and director of flight personnel at Air Evac (Samaritan Hospital System) in Arizona. So suddenly, I was wearing many hats!

When customers asked for aviation-specific first aid training, we provided that as well and flew all over the world to educate our customers in two-day classes. By this time, I segued to an emergency room nurse and flew part-time, working odd hours so that I could run my startup during normal business hours.

We also developed environment-specific kits and training for the maritime industry — also a worldwide endeavor.

Then in 1987, MedLink was launched — the first global “telemedicine” venture that instantaneously connected crews aboard planes and vessels from anywhere in the world to ground-based emergency physicians. This pioneering feat involved satellite communications (SATCOMS), high frequency radio, and teletype transmissions. Mind you, we did this without “modern” technology such as cell phones, email, or laptops. It was a ground-breaking service and forever changed the remote health and safety aspects of the travel industry.

MedAire has since become the golden standard in travel security and safety. I’m proud and gratified that the company I founded has saved lives and improved the plight of those experiencing medical emergencies on land, sea, and air. Today, we are a subsidiary of International SOS, the world’s leading health & security services company

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