Tim Boxer

Nina Boxer

The head of Geoffrey Weill Associates in New York, a premier public relations and marketing firm for the travel and tourism industry, recently experienced a harrowing trip which we believe you’ll find quite illuminating and urge you to read his story before you embark on another tour. Fortunately Geoffrey joined MedjetAssistance to insure a medically safeguarded journey. But then it happened. We’ll let Geoffrey take it from here.

Who Do You Call When Accident
Befalls You Away From Home?

By Geoffrey Weill

HAVE just been through every traveler’s worst nightmare – and not only lived to tell the tale, but, by good fortune, experienced its outcome in the most pampered and spectacular fashion possible.  And any traveler who doesn’t take advantage of the program that takes such exquisite care of injured travelers should stay home.

While hiking an ancient Incan trail near Peru’s Machu Picchu two weeks ago, I slid on some wet ground, my right foot lodged between two rocks, I turned to avoid falling on my face and –crack. The pain was incredible. My foot hung there at a 90 degree angle to my leg.

Geoffrey Weill aboard the medical plane

My hiking companion luckily had a cell phone and called the (only) local doctor. I was given a shot to relieve the pain, a stretcher and splint were fashioned, the wet path was sanded, and I was carried a half mile down the mountain to the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.

I was re-splinted, then transferred by train and ambulance to a private clinic in Cuzco. X-Rays revealed a major break of the tibia and fibula (the two big bones in the lower leg) just above the ankle. I was placed under a full anesthetic so the ankle could be straightened and the foot cast in plaster.

But then what to do? Risk reparative surgery in Cuzco?  Lima?  Or whip out my MedjetAssistance membership card?

I had joined MedjetAssistance two months before. It is a membership program that guarantees a member hospitalized more than 150 miles from home that they will be transported – under medical supervision – home to the hospital of their choice. Whether the accident or illness takes place in Bali or Baltimore, Peoria or Peru.

I whipped out my MedjetAssistance card.  Within minutes I was talking to officials at MedjetAssistance in Birmingham, Alabama. Within the next hour, they and their medical team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center discussed my condition with the Cuzco surgeons, viewed my x-rays on the Internet and discussed the options with my orthopedist in New York.

It was clear I needed major surgery.

It was now 7 p.m. at the clinic in Cuzco, and I collapsed into a drug-induced sleep. At 11 p.m. the details were confirmed to my wife at her hotel in Cuzco.

MedjetAssistance was sending a medically dedicated Learjet staffed with two nurses to pick my wife and me up.

The aircraft could not operate in and out of Cuzco due to the elevation, so three seats were reserved for me on a commercial flight to Lima, where we met the medical team the following morning.

The crew consisted of two pilots (one male, one female) and two nurses (one male, one female). MedjetAssistance arranged for us to be wheeled straight out to the tarmac, I was hauled aboard and made comfortable on a hospital bed.

The cabin was very comfortable with a hospital stretcher-bed, passenger seats and sofa, and included all burled-wood cabinets (fully stocked).  An IV was started for painkillers, and we took off.

The nurses were knowledgeable and kind, even offering reading material, snacks and a choice of movies, including Intolerable Cruelty, a fitting comment, I thought.

In less than two hours we were in Panama. Lunch (delicious) was brought aboard, and we refueled. Two hours later we landed in Fort Lauderdale for more fuel and for immigration.

Snarly Homeland Security officials insisted we disembark and come into the building to be cleared. Our pilot would have none of it. He stormed into the building with our passports, and emerged with clearance to proceed within 10 minutes.

During the flight to New York, MedjetAssistance headquarters confirmed my room number at Mount Sinai Hospital.

At La Guardia we taxied to a remote parking spot, right next to a New York City ambulance. I was placed on a stretcher on the tarmac, inserted in the ambulance and we siren-ed our way into Manhattan – with our Learjet nurses traveling with us, as MedjetAssistance’s promise is “medical supervision” bedside to bedside.

At the hospital we were ushered through a private entrance directly to my room on the eighth floor.

It was a very bad break. The expected 45-minute surgery in New York lasted two-and-a-half   hours. I have a plate and ten steel bolts in my ankle. I will be in plaster for six weeks.

And what did all this cost? Annual membership in MedjetAssistance is $195 ($295 for the family). Under any other circumstance, this little adventure would have cost $45,000.

And many of us think our Titanium and Diamond credit cards cover all this.

Read carefully: There are limitations and caveats to be aware of.  For instance they likely only get you to the nearest hospital – in my case Cuzco or Lima.  Yes, they may arrange the continued repatriation, but then they usually charge the entire cost of the flight to your card!

Yes, I’ll come clean. MedjetAssistance is a client of ours, and I only joined MedjetAssistance last January. But it never occurred to me that I would ever need their services.

I can assure you I didn’t do my Andean acrobatics to test them, or to have a gory story to tell. I also know they didn’t give me special service – because we read details of all the transports they undertake (and there are many), and each embodies the same care and attention I received.

If you’re a traveler like me – don’t take any more risks. Visit or call 1-800-963-3538.

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