U.S. Bizav Woefully Underprepared for Overseas Trips, Says Medaire

NBAA Convention News » 2013
October 24, 2013, 6:30 PM

Two experts from MedAire (Booth No. N3513) discussed how to devise and execute the best medical and security travel plans for private aircraft users at a seminar here at NBAA 2013 yesterday, entitled “Off the Grid and On Alert.”

David Streitwieser, a board-certified emergency medicine specialist, and Denio Alvarado, who at one time was in charge of covert flight planning for Air Force One, discussed a variety of medical and security challenges facing business jet travelers venturing abroad and how to successfully plan for them.

Streitwieser noted that most private jet travelers were woefully unprepared when traveling abroad, citing MedAire data that showed that 78 percent did not even carry an emergency phone number and that 38 percent did not bother to research the country they were visiting. While acknowledging that most in-flight medical emergencies had benign outcomes, he noted the importance of selecting air routes proximate to acceptable levels of medical care. Streitwieser also said that it was important to carry the appropriate medical equipment on board, including an automatic emergency defibrillator, and that all crew, including the pilots, be trained on its use and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and be recertified/retrained annually. Crew also need to be trained to know the signs and symptoms of adverse medical conditions and have access ground-based medical resources.

Streitwieser reminded the attendees that most of the world, including China, still has serious infectious disease and respiratory issues and stressed the importance of assessing the public health in the destination country and having a response plan. “Things change daily in the world of infectious diseases,” he noted. When medical assistance is needed in-country, he added, “language assistance is huge. If you can’t communicate, it makes diagnosis very difficult.”

Alvarado said a good country security risk-assessment requires multiple layers of input from a variety of sources including the U.S. State Department, in-house security departments, security vendors, ground-handlers, clients and partners in-country, employees and FBOs. He cautioned against relying on media reports, which tend to sensationalize political and ethnic conflicts. “If it doesn’t affect your travel, it is irrelevant.” Having local knowledge is key he said, for a variety of considerations including which airport to use, where to park on the airport, how much fuel to keep on the airplane, whether or not to hire local security to guard the aircraft and even when to visit a country. As an example of the latter he cited the days leading up to “Democracy Day” in Nigeria—May 29– as a time to be avoided, as the national holiday is habitually marred by violence, including bombings.

Alvarado noted that all good security arrangements include trigger points for the activation of contingency plans based on a sliding scale of threat levels. He counseled that after any security-related incident, crews needed to debrief, note lessons learned and fine-tune security plans to mitigate future risks.

MedAire is making a complimentary travel risk-management app for iPhones and iPads–“MedAire Trip Ready—available via its website at www.medaire.com/tripready.

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