On Call in Action: Mystery Illness in Cuba

Whether you’re traveling for business, school, or pleasure, it’s safe to say that things don’t always go as planned. (Good thing you always remember to pack your On Call card!) But here’s the thing: unless you’ve actually experienced a travel emergency (a broken leg, lost prescription, stolen passport, or even a legal mix-up), it’s hard to imagine how travel assistance could really come in handy or even save your life. Not to worry – tune in each month to see how travelers just like you turn to On Call International every day for help with their travel emergencies, both big and small.

Nurse Rushing

This Month: Samantha and Hector* were spending two weeks in Havana, Cuba, on a cultural program with their church. After a day out with the group, Hector began complaining of back pain and dizziness. As the couple was getting ready for bed, Hector became very confused and started speaking incoherently. While waiting for the emergency responders, Samantha contacted their travel risk management provider, On Call International, for help.

On Call to the Rescue…

By the time Hector was seen by a doctor, he was no longer lucid. He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis, but the diagnosis did not explain his confusion and dizziness. Upon completing a consult with Hector’s treating doctor, On Call suggested a few additional tests. We kept in touch with Samantha and confirmed that Hector was being monitored closely until another diagnosis could be reached.

After our medical team spoke with Hector’s treating physician again, we decided it was in Hector’s best interest to receive further treatment in the United States. We arranged an emergent air ambulance transport from Havana to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where Hector was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis.
Closing the Deal…

Following the diagnosis and consultation with the treating physicians, our medical team determined Hector should receive treatment closer to his home in Phoenix. We arranged another air ambulance to his home hospital where he could be near his family and primary care doctor. Samantha and Hector were relieved to have On Call not only help them navigate a developing country’s healthcare system, but to also get him quickly and safely to the care he needed to treat his serious illness.

*Names have been changed to protect member privacy.



  1. Thank you for sharing this experience about a successful air ambulance rescue. I find that traveling by air is a great way of transportation in emergencies like the one mentioned. It is a good idea to take caution and prepare for the unexpected in these situations.

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