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International SOS focuses on helping organisations and their people reduce exposure to, and mitigate, risks while travelling abroad.[3] Their services include pre-travel information, pre-travel health programmes, travel safety education, advice, medical equipment and assistance services.[4]

International SOS
International SOS clinic staff moving a patient into their clinic in Lagos, Nigeria

It provides a range of services all over the world including assessing medical and security risks, advising on preventive programmes and assisting with emergency response for travellers, expatriates and their dependents. These activities are provided via 27 assistance centres including Bali, Beijing, Dubai, Jakarta, London, Paris, Philadelphia, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo. These centres are staffed by physicians, nurses, operations managers, multilingual coordinators and logistics support personnel.

International SOS are a privately owned company. They work with scholastic organisations,[5] corporate clients (including the majority of the Fortune Global 500[1]), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and governmental organisations.[6]

International SOS is among the oldest of companies offering traveller tracking services. TravelTracker, their flagship technology product, monitors the travel of 2.5 million people, helping organisations locate their workers in a crisis.[7] TravelTracker is a component of International SOS' travel risk management programme, also including risk assessment, client advice, and providing assistance when needed.

International SOS is the world's largest medical and travel security services firm, which count nearly two-thirds of the Fortune Global 500 companies as clients.[1] International SOS specialises in medical assistance, travel security advice and information, emergency services, healthcare, evacuation and repatriation services. The company was founded in 1985 to provide medical, travel security advice and assistance to organisations with people living and travelling abroad. International SOS operates from over 1,000 locations in 90 countries and take around 5 million assistance calls every year.[2]

International SOS
International SOS logo with tagline.png
Founded 1985
Headquarters London, UK and Singapore
No. of locations Global
Founders Arnaud Vaissié and Dr Pascal Rey-Herme
Employees 11,000
Slogan Worldwide reach. Human touch[8]



International SOS has dual headquarters in Singapore and London.[9] Its operations are divided into six regions: America, Europe, EEMEA (East Europe, Middle East and Africa), Indonesia, Asia and Australia. All its assistance Centres have Global ISO 9001:2008 certification.[10]

It also has a global network of external service providers including specialist doctors, hospitals, ambulances, charter aircraft and security personnel. The centres are staffed by physicians, nurses, operations managers, multilingual coordinators and logistics support personnel.


The organisation has approximately 11,000 employees worldwide, of which 1,400 are full-time doctors and 200 are security specialists. International SOS has a global network of 27 Assistance Centres staffed by physicians, nurses, operations managers, multilingual coordinators and logistics support personnel.

Joint Venture with Control RisksEdit

International SOS and Control Risks formed a joint venture in 2008 to deliver travel security advice and assistance to clients. Control Risks is an independent, global risk consultancy specialising in political, integrity and security risk.

Aeromedical ServicesEdit

International SOS operate air ambulances services out of South Africa, Singapore, China, Papua New Guinea, and the Middle East. International SOS airlifted 18,000 emergency cases in 2008.[11]

Their scheduled airline and air ambulance transports services are certified to ISO 9001:2008.[12]

International SOS is a member and contributor to Flight Safety Foundation’s BARS (Basic Aviation Risk Standard).[13]

The fleet includes the following aircraft:

Gulfstream 550, Gulfstream 450, Hawker 900, Citation CJ3, King Air B200, King Air C90, Twin Otter, Falcon 10, Learjet 35, Citation CJ3, Hawker 800, Challenger 604 and Gulfstream G150. The fleet is supplemented with a global network of specialist providers.

Air ambulances are used across borders and islands such as rescuing Singaporeans affected by the Sabah earthquake in Malaysia.[14]


1985: Pascal Rey-Herme, a doctor, and Arnaud Vaissié, a businessman, founded a company (then called AEA International) in 1985 to provide medical assistance services to expatriate communities and international organisations operating in Southeast Asia. Over the following decade, the company grew from its base in Singapore and Indonesia into a pan-Asian corporation, with operations in Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and mainland China. Key clients included oil and gas companies with operations in remote locations.

1998: AEA International acquired International SOS Assistance, a Group of Corporations founded in 1974 by Claude Giroux a Canadian entrepreneur, creating the largest medical assistance company in the world.[1] Initially, 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.

Growth and AcquisitionsEdit

The company’s growth partly resulted from a number of joint ventures and acquisitions, including:



  • Acquired a majority stake in Abermed, a UK-based provider of occupational health and remote medical services to the energy sector
  • Opened Latin American division


  • Developed a strategic alliance with RMSI, an international rapid deployment medical and rescue service, with activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and Pakistan


  • Merged with VIPdesk, a North American provider of concierge services, customer care and loyalty programs
  • Acquired the medical supplies division of SMI (Service Médical International)
  • Further expanded its medical distribution services through acquisition of L.E. West, EMC, Shenton Pharmacy and Nutracare Pharma
  • Launched a joint venture in Brazil with International Health Care


  • Acquired EMSM, a concierge and lifestyle company in South Korea
  • International SOS moved its UK headquarters to Chiswick Park, West London


  • Launched the Aspire Lifestyles brand, offering loyalty, concierge and assistance services
  • Acquired Norwegian companies SBHT, KBHT, Haugaland HMS and Nordic Medical Services (NMS)
  • Partnered with Aerosafety, a medical and aviation safety equipment company in Brazil


  • Launched Response Services Australia, a provider of emergency response, rescue and recovery services
  • Entered a partnership with AMAS medical Services in India
  • Acquired Aeromed in Mozambique
  • Created strategic partnership with Western Africa Rescue Association (WARA), a clinic and medical services company in West Africa


  • Celebrated its 30th anniversary with the launch of a new logo, brand identity and website.[17]

Milestones and Significant EventsEdit

International SOS has provided medical advice, assistance and travel safety services during and after a number of major incidents.[18]

1998 Evacuation assistance provided during the Jakarta unrest.[18]

2000 Began to provide client support during major sporting events, later including the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012); and the 2010 Asian Games.[19]

2001 Travel locator services were added to the online platform.

2003 Provided medical assistance during the SARS outbreak, including utilising a portable medical isolation unit to transport infected patients.[20]

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.[21]

2005 Medical assistance given in response to Hurricane Wilma.[22]

2006 International SOS’s medical transports became the first direct flights between mainland China and Taiwan to be flown since 1949.[23]

2008 TravelTracker launched, a travel tracking service that combined the best of Control Risks' and International SOS' existing services.[24] The award-winning application now tracks more than 2.5 million travellers per year.[25] Provided advice and assistance following the Mumbai terrorist attacks and helped those directly impacted by the event.[26]

2010 Dispatched a team to coordinate evacuations immediately following the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.[27] Began to offer preventive programmes to help companies meet duty of care obligations to employees travelling and working abroad.[28] This initiative led to the distribution of medical and security information and alerts online, and developing travel preparation and risk mitigation programmes.[7][29]


  • Coordinated evacuations following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.[30]
  • During the Arab Spring helped clients track and evacuate employees from different locations[31]
  • Launched the International SOS Assistance App – the Android and iPhone iOS mobile phone apps. The mobile app connects business travellers to the global response capabilities of International SOS, including a one-click dial for help from the nearest International SOS Assistance Centre, instant access to the latest location-specific travel alerts, and real-time health and security advice


  • During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, International SOS provided Medical advice, equipment, and educational resources were provided during the outbreak. An Ebola public-service announcement was also produced and aired throughout West and East Africa.[32][33][34]
  • A team was deployed to the Pacific island nation Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam.[35]


  • Assisted and provided emergency medical evacuations services for the victims of the Sabah earthquake in Malaysia.[36]
  • Provided evacuation advice and assistance to clients during the Yemen crisis.[37]
  • Launched updated version of Pandemic Information, an online portal featuring information on, and analysis of, emerging infectious disease outbreaks.[38]
  • Became first company in the world to be certified in the delivery of Telehealth services[39] with international standard ISO/TS 13131:2014 ED1. One of the benefits of the ISO/TS 13131 standard is the provision of quality telehealth services ensuring seamless cooperation globally, interoperability of systems and a reliably high standard of delivery. This standard allows for increased diagnostic certainty, maximising the opportunity to confirm a correct diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment early on. It also promotes continuity of care and expedites clinical care pathways by utilising telehealth intervention, being especially relevant for patients in more remote locations or locations with reduced health care provision.
  • Produced 2016 Travel Risk Map, the industry’s first integrated medical and travel security risk map[40]
  • Named the number one preferred provider for personal security and medical emergency services in the benchmark study, Policy in Practice 2015: Business Travelers by the Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM)[41]



International SOS has received the following recognition and awards:

2009 Arnaud Vaissié awarded Ernst and young Entrepreneur of The Year Award[44]

2012 The publication ‘Duty of Care Benchmarking Study’ won ‘Best Research Study of the Year’ EMMA.[45]


  • Finalist for Best in Business Travel Technology & Services award, Grand Prix des Lauriers[46]
  • Finalist for Risk Management Product of the Year (Specialised) and Best Use of Technology in Risk Management - CIR Magazine[47]


  • TravelTracker 6.0 won the Business Travel Awards ‘Best Specialist Business Travel Product/Provider[48] Shortlisted for Best Technological Innovation in Relocation - Re:Locate Awards[49]
  • Best Specialist Business Travel Product/Provider award - Business Travel Awards[50]


International SOS and Control Risks received the Individual Alliance Excellence Award from the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals. The award recognises excellence in planning, implementation, and results of a single alliance.[51]


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[52][53] and ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) International.[54]

2009 ‘White Paper: ‘Duty of Care of Employers for Protecting International Assignees, Their Dependents, and International Business Travellers’, written by Professor Dr Lisbeth Claus, published by International SOS.[52]

2010Briefing Paper: Every Ash Cloud has a Silver Lining – Lessons Learned from the 2010 Icelandic Volcano Crisis’, published by ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) Global and International SOS.

2011 ‘Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management Global Benchmarking Study’[1], written by Professor Dr Lisbeth Claus, published by International SOS.

2015 ‘Travel Risk Management, European Trends’[2], written in partnership with FERMA and DLA Piper.

2015Scholastic sector's duty of care: Managing the pursuit of education while abroad’ written by Dr Lisbeth Claus, Professor of Global Human Resources at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management of Willamette University, and Robert L. Quigley, Regional Medical Director and Senior Vice President of Medical Assistance, Americas Region for International SOS.

2016Managing the safety, health and security of mobile workers: an occupational safety and health practitioner's guide’ by International SOS Foundation and IOSH

International SOS FoundationEdit

The International SOS Foundation launched in March 2012 and is a registered charity that was started with a grant from International SOS. It is a fully independent and non-profit organisation.[55]

The International SOS Foundation has the goal of improving the safety, security, health and welfare of people working abroad or on remote assignments through the study, understanding and mitigation of potential risks. It has published, and acts as a repository for, a number of academic papers, articles and advisory notes on duty of care, travel risk management and related topics.[56]

In 2016, the International SOS Foundation introduced the Duty of Care Awards to recognise organisations and individuals who have made a significant contribution to protecting their staff as they travel and work overseas.[57]

Publications from the International SOS FoundationEdit

Notable publications include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Risky business". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  2. ^ "Facts and Figures". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  3. ^ "The Times - Raconteur Business Risk Strategies" (PDF). The Times - Raconteur Business Risk Strategies. The Times. June 11, 2015. Retrieved July 19, 2016. 
  4. ^ "TRICARE Sends $269.1M SOS for Overseas Health Care". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  5. ^ "Columbia releases new International Travel Planning Policy". Columbia Daily Spectator. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  6. ^ "The safest rooms in a hotel during a terror attack or disaster". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  7. ^ a b Levere, Jane L. (2015-01-26). "In Emergencies, Companies Are Turning to Employee-Tracking Services". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  8. ^ "International SOS Refreshes Branding to Mark 30th Anniversary :: AD HOC NEWS". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  9. ^ "Locations". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  10. ^ "Locations". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  11. ^ "Expat health care: who do you rely on in your darkest hour?". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  12. ^ "International SOS first company to be certified in delivery of TeleHealth Services". 2015-11-02. Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  13. ^ "Customers | Flight Safety Foundation - BARS Program". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  14. ^ migration (2015-06-07). "Sabah quake: 2 injured Tanjong Katong Primary pupils back in Singapore". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  15. ^ Continuity Central - International SOS and Control Risks form joint venture
  16. ^ - MedAire, an International SOS Company, to Deliver New Levels of Medical Assistance
  17. ^ "International SOS Refreshes Branding to Mark 30th Anniversary :: AD HOC NEWS". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  18. ^ a b Veach, Emily (2011-03-28). "International SOS Uses Its Global Reach". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  19. ^ International SOS signs agreement with PICC (2010) Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  20. ^ Tsai, SH; Tsang, CM; Wu, HR; Lu, LH; Pai, YC; Olsen, M; Chiu, WT (2004). "Transporting patient with suspected SARS". Emerging Infect. Dis. 10: 1325–6. doi:10.3201/eid1007.030608. PMC 3323337 . PMID 15338533. 
  21. ^ Tomorrow’s Health & Safety Issue 16 (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  22. ^ BBC (2005) Britons stranded after Wilma hits. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  23. ^ "Assistance firm makes history with Taiwan airlifts". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  24. ^ "Travel Management - International SOS and Control Risks Form Joint Venture". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  25. ^ "Interview: Arnaud Vaissié – Chairman & CEO, International SOS – France". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  26. ^ "Executives seek five-star security -". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  27. ^ Sharkey, J. (2010) For Travelers in Danger, Someone to Swoop In. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  28. ^ Levere, J. L. (2015) In Emergencies, Companies Are Turning to Employee-Tracking Services. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  29. ^ Blitz, Roger (2011-03-28). "Business turns attention to staff safety". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  30. ^ Carey, Susan; Burton, Thomas M.; Maxwell, Kenneth (2011-03-18). "Foreign Companies Step Up Evacuation Efforts". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  31. ^ Blitz, Roger (2008-12-18). "Executives seek five-star security". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  32. ^ Downey, S. (2014) Ebola & Business Travel: What You Need to Know. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  33. ^ Fry, E. (2014) Business in the hot zone: How one global corporation has managed the Ebola epidemic. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  34. ^ RM Professional (2015) Getting Disasters Right. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  35. ^ "The healthcare company that is on constant alert". Financial Times. 16 April 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  36. ^ LEE, P. (2015) Sabah quake: More bodies recovered and identification process still going on, says MOE. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  37. ^ BBC News (2015) International SOS Regional Security Director Julian Moro on BBC World News. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  38. ^
  39. ^ "International SOS breaks virtual ground (2016-03-22) - ISO". ISO. Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  40. ^ "New map created to alert tourists of the risks they may face abroad". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  41. ^ "Business travel choice". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  42. ^ Zika concerns for travelers to Rio Olympics - CNN Video, retrieved 2016-07-19 
  43. ^ Taylor, Mia (2016-04-06). "Traveling to Europe post-Brussels attacks: What U.S. travelers need to nnow for summer vacation". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  44. ^ "Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009 Singapore – International Healthcare". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  45. ^ SOS, International. "International SOS Wins EMMA Award for Thought Leadership". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  46. ^ Shortlists | Business Travel Awards 2015 (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2015)
  47. ^ Risk Management Awards in association with CIR Magazine (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2015)
  48. ^ "Business Travel Awards 2015: the winners | Buying Business Travel". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  49. ^ Magazine, R. (2001) Global Corporate Relocation | Awards | Winners | Awards | Re:locate magazine. Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2015)
  50. ^ Winners 2015 | Business Travel Awards 2015 (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2015)
  51. ^ "'Recognizing Great Behavior': Winners of 2016 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Receive Honors and Accolades for Innovative Problem-Solving at ASAP Global Alliance Summit - Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  52. ^ a b Claus, L. (2009) Duty of Care of Employers for Protecting International Assignees, their Dependents, and International Business Travelers. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  53. ^ Claus, L. (2011) Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management Global Benchmarking Study. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  54. ^ ACTE International (2010) Every Ash Cloud Has a Silver Lining. Available at: (Accessed: 28 July 2015)
  55. ^ "international sos foundation". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  56. ^ "Menu". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 
  57. ^ "Global Duty of Care Awards, International SOS Foundation Call for Nominations | Business Wire". Retrieved 2016-07-19. 

External linksEdit