International SOS saved the day for a plan member who needed immediate medical attention for her husband while visiting Guatemala.
Imagine you’ve just crashed your vehicle in a foreign country. You don’t speak the language and you need to get your husband to a hospital. What do you do?
If you’re plan member Sharon Castillo, you call International SOS (ISOS), available to anyone with medical coverage* through the Board of Pensions. ISOS offers medical advice, assistance, and referrals for travelers abroad, as well as advice if you lose important travel documents and emergency translation services.
It was Easter Sunday and Sharon and her husband, Bill, were traveling on a moped to church in Antigua, Guatemala. A turn and a cobblestone road later, they found themselves in a heap on the road entangled with the overturned moped. “My husband took most of the weight of the fall, and landed on his left side with me on top. His arm and leg were badly burned,” said Sharon.
When they got back to their hotel, Bill told Sharon that he had to get to a hospital. “It was awful. Bill told me that he was having chest pains,” she explained, adding that Bill is fluent in Spanish, but she is not. So, she called ISOS.
“After I explained the situation, the ISOS representative told us which hospital to go to and that they had called ahead to be sure there was a doctor there who spoke English,” said Sharon.
When they got to the hospital, the doctor met them at the door, and greeted them by name. He and the nurse were both bilingual so that Sharon could speak with them as well as Bill. “I was so thankful that ISOS helped us navigate the incident — what to do and where to go,” Sharon said. “We passed another hospital on the way and learned later that it wasn’t the same caliber as the one we went to.”
Bill recovered after several weeks of recuperation, but both he and Sharon still have scars (emotional and physical) from the accident. Sharon’s advice if you’re planning an overseas trip: “This happens more than you think, people needing to find a doctor while traveling abroad. If you’re going out of the country, be sure to bring your ISOS reference card. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Reference the ISOS card for the appropriate number to call, depending on your location. There’s also a convenient mobile app, which provides medical and security information by country. To download the app, open the iOS App Store or Google Play and search for International SOS Assistance App.
It all adds up to peace of mind so you can enjoy your trip.
*Those enrolled in Triple-S or GeoBlue should consult their plan for information about covered services while traveling internationally.