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Commercial Medical Escorts Blog

Our CME blog will keep you aware of what is going on within the aero medical transport industry and the latest news for Commercial Medical Escorts. Every week we have nurses and doctors in different areas of the world. Each of our medical team members are providing excellent patient care and assisting patients with different medical needs. While one nurse may be in Indonesia caring for a patient with a hip fracture, another nurse can be in Thailand tending to a patient that recently experiences a mild stroke. Our medical blog is a way for you to get an insight to the air medical transportation that we provide.

Travel Outlook for 2015 from ASTA

by Lux Joseph 11. January 2015

Our in-house travel department has shared with CME some outlook on travel this upcoming year, 2015. CME works closely with our travel department to ensure we are providing on the best travel arrangements for our clients. Our travel department has extensive knowledge on the medical assistance industry as well as travel. As our travel department is partnered with the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), he has advised us that ASATA has set an aggressive agenda for 2015 in its mission to be the lead advocate for travel agents who, in turn, are the strongest allies of the traveling public. The agenda includes action at both the federal and state levels, continues work begun in 2014 and adds new initiatives that support free and unfettered world travel.


“ASTA is the only industry organization with the know-how, the staff, the resources and the alliances to effectively defend the interests of travel agencies across the country,” said Sky Cap Corp President and CEO Joseph McNamara. “This was reflected in our work in 2014, a banner year for ASTA advocacy that saw us leverage our unique strength as an association before the U.S. Congress, the White House, federal agencies and all 50 state legislatures in the fight to keep the retail distribution channel strong and thriving for years to come.”

The Association’s advocacy priorities for 2015 include:

  • Ensuring Transparency in the Cost of Air Travel: ASTA will work to ensure that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) landmark rulemaking on airline ancillary fees provides agents and consumers full access to airline ancillary fees and the ability to purchase the complete air transportation product; and will fight airline efforts to insert the so-called Transparent Airfares Act overturning DOT’s full-fare advertising rule into “must-pass” Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation in Congress.
  • Reducing the Regulatory Burden on Travel Agents: ASTA will fight against proposals in Congress and at the DOT that will require agents to make new and unwarranted disclosures to consumers during airline ticketing, such as one in a 2012 law requiring notification that the aircraft their client is flying on may be sprayed with insecticides.
  • Fighting Oppressive Taxation: ASTA will continue to oppose any state proposals to apply new taxes to agency fees and other income, including proposals to subject service industries such as travel agencies to state sales taxes, and to apply state and local hotel taxes to hotel “intermediaries” such as agents. At the same time, ASTA will work with its car rental partners to enact federal legislation to preempt state and local governments from imposing discriminatory taxes on car rentals.
  • Cuba Travel: Building on the recent agreement reached between the U.S. and Cuban governments to ease long-standing restrictions on trade and other interactions between the two countries – including those preventing American citizens from travelling to Cuba – ASTA will work with President Obama, Administration officials and the U.S. Congress to ensure that Americans are free to travel to Cuba without constraint from their own government. While working toward a full repeal of the travel ban, the Association will petition the Administration to expressly permit any travel agent to book travel for Americans lawfully entitled to travel to Cuba under the new regulations called for by the President in late 2014.
  • Travel Facilitation: ASTA will support the expansion of “Trusted Traveler” aviation security programs, such as TSA’s PreCheck and CBP’s Global Entry, and will ensure that agents have a voice and active role in their implementation. On the international side, the Association will support the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, which will streamline visa processes for “inbound” travelers and help the U.S. recapture its historic share of worldwide overseas travel. 

The highlights of ASTA’s advocacy work during 2014 include:

  • White House Meeting: In March, ASTA secured a first-ever meeting in the White House to brief President Obama’s advisors face to face on the value of the travel agency channel to both consumers and to the small business-driven national economy.
  • IATA NDC: The association worked collaboratively with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other aviation stakeholders to ensure that the DOT’s August approval of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiative was subject to a number of consumer protection conditions designed to protect competition and consumer privacy. Going forward, ASTA will work to ensure that agents’ views and business needs are taken into account as NDC is further developed – as a member of several IATA advisory committees as well as a recently-announced initiative to develop understanding of the impact (e.g., from a business, technology and commercial perspective) of NDC for travel agents.
  • Hazmat Notification Regulations: ASTA was successful in its efforts to rework a burdensome DOT regulation that would have required agents to secure their client’s acknowledgement of complex federal hazardous materials restrictions before issuing an airline ticket. Instead, starting in 2016 the disclosure requirement can now be fulfilled any time prior to check-in, such as by automatically providing it on the passenger’s itinerary. This is a big win for agents, as the original requirements would have added to existing passenger notification requirements travel agents have to comply with regarding code-share flights, insecticide spraying and others issues. These requirements would have saddled the industry with more than $58 million in initial training and programming costs and $26 million per year in ongoing compliance costs. 
  • Travel Insurance Reform: Working with a coalition led by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, ASTA and its members have helped reform costly and complex travel insurance licensing in 31 states. Members’ grassroots efforts – including committee testimony in Colorado (Rich Sattizahn), Hawaii (Rachel Shimamoto, Wendy Goodenow) and Maryland (Larry Swerdlin, Jay Ellenby) – were instrumental in moving this initiative forward. Once in place nationwide, these standards will save agencies thousands of dollars in annual licensing costs while reducing the risk of state fines for non-compliance. Counting only the 31 states that have adopted the standards, ASTA estimates the collective savings for the travel agency industry to be $7.5 million per year thanks to this reform.

As one can see, having a travel department that has a strong relationship established with the travel industry demonstrates progressive growth and outlook for CME’s operations. CME’s business relies heavily on the travel industry and people traveling around the world. If there is a declining trend in travelers that is something that CME wants to know because it can impact our business significantly. While we do not want people to become ill or injured, we are proactive in demonstrating the importance of travel insurance to travelers around the world.

National Blood Donor Month

by Lux Joseph 28. December 2014

Next month don’t be surprised if you see a blood donor van at your neighborhood supermarket. Since 1970, January has been recognized as National Blood Donor month. President Richard Nixon introduced the proclamation and stated, “With the advent of the New Year, it is appropriate and timely to pay high tribute to our Nation's voluntary blood donors for their generosity and to encourage more people-both women and men, and both the younger and the older-to join their worthy ranks by providing a steady and increasing supply of blood during each month of the year ahead.” The winter season can be one of the most challenging seasons for acquiring the amount of blood needed for hospitals and medical centers around the world. During the winter there is an increase number of illnesses, people traveling, and holiday schedules. It can also be a challenging time for donors to keep appointments because of the cold and snowy weather in the northeast and also the post-holiday schedules. We can expect to see an increase number of donor buses around towns to increase the number of blood donations.

Every day in our country, approximately 39,000 units of blood are required in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities for patients with cancer and other diseases, for organ transplant recipients, and to help save the lives of accident victims. Approximately 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but current statistics show that less than 10% do. Those individuals requiring blood rely on that small percentage of donors to hopefully be enough to meet the needs. Unfortunately that is not always the case. While not every individual is eligible to donate, the preliminary requirements are:

  • Donors must be in good health.
  • Donors must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent).
  • Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds.
  • Eligible donors must have a current photo ID, preferably a valid driver’s license. If you are a high school donor and don't have one of these, another form of ID with your photo and proof of age is necessary.

A donor is eligible to donate whole blood every 56 days, or approximately eight weeks. However, it is important to know that some patients around the world need the other components just as much as they may need whole blood. There are four types of products that can come from whole blood donation: red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate. Out of one pint of blood, the whole blood can be separated into two or three parts, allowing a single donor to save up to three lives in a single donation. As a donor, you can also choose to only donate certain components. Plasma can be donated as often as once a month. Platelets can be given every seven days, up to 24 times each year. When you give through automation, also known as apheresis, you may be able to save more lives by helping people with specific blood product needs. Every 12 seconds someone needs a blood transfusion. Many people think that blood banks have a surplus of blood on supply for instances of scarcity, but that is a myth and not the case at all. From the moment an individual’s blood is drawn until the moment it is sent out to the hospital is three (3) days. Immediately after an individual’s blood is drawn it is sent to a lab. At that time it is tested and separated. Once the blood is confirmed to be clean and healthy, the blood is distributed to hospitals.

This upcoming January, Commercial Medical Escorts encourages you to participate in donating blood if you are able to do so. Consider some of these fast facts:

  • 4.5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year.
  • 40,000 pints are transfused each day in the United States.
  • Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • A blood donation can save the life of cancer patients, accident, burn, and trauma victims, newborn babies, mothers delivering babies, transplant patients, surgery patients and others in need.
  • Much of today’s sophisticated medical care (transplants, heart surgeries, etc.) relies on blood transfusions. • Car accident and trauma victims may need as many as 50 or more red cell transfusions.
  • Severe burn victims may need as many as 20 platelet transfusions.
  • Bone marrow transplant patients may require platelets and red cells from more than 100 donors.
  • Blood products are perishable: donated red cells last only 42 days, platelets last only 5 days, and plasma can be frozen for a year.
  • State-of-the art automated red blood cell donation, Alyx (60.2 KB), allows donors to double their impact by donating two units of red cells in one visit. This is a month to remember how we can save lives.

Individuals do this every day around the world. Commercial Medical Escorts encourages individuals to participate in blood donation so that we can collaboratively continue to work towards achieving the highest amount of blood donation to save millions of lives at risk daily. By working together to advocate for effective blood programs and recruitment of donors, we can give hope - and blood - for those who give life.

References

Blood Facts and Statistics. American Red Cross. Accessed on January 13, 2014. http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics

Donation Process. American Red Cross. Accessed on January 14, 2014. http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/donation-process

 

 

JetBlue Gives You Less

by Lux Joseph 16. December 2014

Jetblue Airlines and Southwest airlines appear to be the only two US Carriers that still allow passengers to travel with one checked bag free of charge. For travelers, this is a luxury considering every other airline charges a fee for a checked bag and those rates van vary among carriers. But is Jetblue shifting their philosophy and joining the reins of their competitors by adding baggage fees to their products?
 
JetBlue Airways recently made the decision to charge for checked bags in the upcoming quarter after pressure from analysts advising them to align their fees with their competitors. When we asked our travel agent how he thinks this will affect passengers he stated, A lot of individuals still look to JetBlue and Southwest because of the first bag checked for free however, that is primarily your travelers who dont travel frequently. Most individuals who travel frequently have status with one or more of the airlines, or have a credit card that pays for the first checked bag to ultimately it will not affect them. The decision to charge for bag fees was not a single decision made by JetBlue Airways. This shift comes with other changes including fare structures, legroom in economy class, and plane configuration.
 
As mentioned earlier, these decisions were driven by a Wall Street viewpoint to increase the maximum revenue potential for JetBlue Airways. In regards to checked bags, JetBlue plans to introduce a fare structure that will be three tiered based on the number of bags the guest has. Similar to other airline programs, the higher fares offer more flexibility and increased number of frequent flier points to be earned. Just a small increase for the airline will drive approximately 65 million in additional revenue for 2015.
 
Along with the fare structure change, JetBlue is reconfiguring their airplanes to add additional seats. This is another attempt to add additional revenue to their sales portfolio. However, this will affect the customer experience with a decrease in seat pitch. JetBlues current seat pitch is 34.7 inches. However after the planes new configuration the seat pitch will decrease to 33.1. The average traveler may be disgruntled by this change, but JetBlue will still lead the industry with the largest seat pitch. On the A320s the increased number of seats will go to 165 whereas they could have increased it to 180. JetBlue believes in the customer experience, but also realizes its place in the industry. In the USA alone we have seen the number of major domestic carriers decrease year over year due to bankruptcy and mergers. JetBlue is attempting to find a medium between making the numbers profitable, and also meeting the needs of their customers.
 
When JetBlue Airways first introduced these changes, the first thought from consumers was negative, but that is because the change hasnt been fully processed by the traveler. They have decreased the seat pitch, but they are still ahead of all their competitors. They are beginning to charge for bags, but they still will have fares that include a first bag checked for free. JetBlue is leaving the decision up to the customer as to whether they add a fee to their flight or choose a fare in which it is included. These fares are scheduled to begin in early 2015.
 
Southwest will soon reign as the only USA carrier to include the first checked bag free of charge. While Southwest may see this as an opportunity to acquire a share of JetBlues customer’s who oppose the fee; it will be interesting to see if these changes actually shift customers to look at Southwest as their new carrier of choice. When travelers look for an airline ticket there are a variety of factors that are considered including fare cost, baggage fees, destinations, seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, etc. A small change like this may not mean a loss of business for JetBlue, but instead, additional revenue that was sitting on table.
 

 


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