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Worldwide Travel Alert

by Lux Joseph 5. August 2013

The United States issued a worldwide travel alert on Friday warning Americans that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. Yesterday the US Department of State has closed 21 US Embassies and Consulates around the world due to recent intelligence. This global warning has an affect on all Americans and we want you to know that CME is using caution and the highest level of safety when transporting our patients throughout this travel warning.

On a day-to-day basis, CME is transporting patients around the world with nurses and physicians in an effort to bring them back home with safe and sound. When a travel alert, such as this one is announced to US citizens, remember that safety is our number one priority in every transport. CME would like to remind our clients and patients that the following items are exercised thoroughly to maintain a safe and secure transport:

Ground Transportation

Upon arrival into any country, our medical escorts will be escorted via ground transportation that has been pre-arranged. At this time we encourage our team to not use public transportation when not absolutely necessary. When transporting our patients from the facility to the airport for departure we will also have ground transportation arranged in advance. Each of our ground transportation providers ensure only the highest quality of vendors are utilized for transport. If you are traveling abroad, we suggest you contact the concierge at your hotel to have pre-arranged cars to take you to your destination.

STEP

Each of our medical escorts will be enrolled in the Department of Travel STEP program. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is strongly recommended for anyone traveling outside of the country. Even if there is no active threat alert it is encouraged that you enroll in this program. By enrolling in STEP you will receive the latest security updates and your information is on file with the US Embassies and Consulates so they may contact you during an emergency. Ever time a nurse is traveling abroad their trip will be registered. We encourage you to register today at: https://step.state.gov/step/

Know your Surroundings

CME picks up patients from different destinations every week. There is always a significant amount of transports to your major destinations like Paris, London, Frankfurt, Prague, and Amsterdam. However, there are also a variety of new destinations that are unfamiliar to our medical team. It is encouraged that you always be well aware of your surroundings when traveling abroad.  At CME, we will do our best to select American hotels when available for our medical team. We always select hotels that have a restaurant within the hotel therefore our medical team does not need to leave the hotel to find a restaurant. You should also select a hotel with an excellent concierge so they can assist you in making smart decisions. The concierge is the most knowledgeable individual in the area. The concierge can explain to you the safety do's and don'ts for the area around the hotel.

Monitoring Travel

CME closely monitors the latest news and weather updates, as well as the U.S. Department of State website, for travel alerts and travel warnings for all destinations, including those that are most popular with our clients. Should we become aware of an issue for a specific destination, we alert clients and our medical team who may be planning to travel there so they can determine for themselves if they still wish to travel. If CME becomes aware of an issue for a specific destination where a client is currently located, we try to immediately contact the clinician, patient, and client to check on their well-being and work to assist them if they require alternate travel arrangements.

Working with the US Embassies Around the World

CME has established a great working relationship with several of the US Embassies and Consulates around the world. We have worked with many of their emergency personnel in addition to assisting some of our patients and companions acquire the necessary documents to return back to the USA. When traveling abroad, the US Embassies and Consulates are your emergency hotline 24/7. Even with the recent closures of many US Embassies, the emergency contact number is still active. The closures affect routine public services like passport and visa issues.  

CME is here to assist our clients; their safety and well-being is our top priority. We provide the facts so our clients can make an informed decision about their travel plans. This travel warning is in effect until August 31, but analyzing and adjusting CME safely measures is an ongoing effort within our office. When transporting our patients we always look at the most direct routing based on availability. As updated information becomes available, CME will continue to make adjustments to our safety guidelines. You can also stay informed through the following social media channels:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/travelgov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/travelgov

Important Travel Documents

by Lux Joseph 19. July 2013

Each and every day new travel laws, restrictions, and requirements are established. These new rules and requirements may prohibit you from traveling to a certain area, or in our case, require you to have a visa prior to arrival. It is necessary to check with the embassy to receive the most up to date information about what is required for travel. Having all the proper legal documents prior to departing the United States is critical to ensure that you are a safe traveler. We recently submitted several visa applications for a particular country and this time had to submit new additional support documents. When we completed the process six months ago different information was required.  Staying current and up to date on country entry requirements isn’t the easiest task so we encourage you to use the tips below and consider utilizing a visa and passport processing agency.

Whenever you are thinking about traveling abroad to a country that may have travel restrictions it is advised that you visit the following website provided by the Department of State: http://travel.state.gov/. Here you will find travel alerts, travel warnings, visa requirements, travel tips, and even information regarding your passport. When you are at this website reviewing the visa requirements for your trip, it would be smart for you to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This is a program set up to assist US Citizens traveling abroad during a time of emergency.  It works both ways to assist you as the traveler and your family that is not traveling and staying home in the USA. If there is an emergency with your family or if there is a crisis in the area you are traveling, this assists the US Depart of State to be able to get in contact with you. As a traveler you should also have the primary contact information for consular services should you ever need their assistance. They can be reached at:

Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs

Within the USA 1-888-407-4747

Outside the USA 202-501-4444

When traveling to Russia in 2012, all you needed to present to the embassy to confirm your hotel stay was your confirmation from either an online booking tool or your travel agent. Now those times have changed. As per the Russian Embassy: “Confirmation of the hotel reservation, a contract for provision of tourist services, confirmation of reception of the tourist, and register number from the Uniform Federal Register of the Tour Operators of the Federal Tourism Agency.” This may appear like a small change, but not adhering to the new requirement will have your visa rejected.

After enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and reviewing the updated information from the Department of State we would strongly suggest using a visa processing agency. There are several of these types of agencies available throughout the United States and you don’t need to visit them in person to have it completed. Some of the most frequently used agencies include:

A Briggs Passport & Visa Expeditors

Travel Document Systems, Inc

VisaHQ

Washington Express Visas

Our office has always used Travel Document Systems, Inc. Our preferred office is the one located in Washington, DC, but depending on where you are a resident may depend on the location in which you submit your visa application. For example when I was traveling to China for the Air Medical and Rescue China Congress, my application needed to be submitted to the Travel Document Systems located in Houston since I am a resident of Florida.

Having a team like the people at Travel Document Systems alleviates the stress and anxiety of putting together something that you are not familiar with. It would be similar if I were to try to build a house, when that is not my specialty. The individuals at Travel Document Systems work on passports and visas every single day. They are experts in this area and advocate for you at the embassy. One of our recent applications was sent in and the hotel voucher had made a mistake on the nurse’s date of birth. This is considered an error in the application and would have been rejected, but instead Travel Document Systems contacted us and walked us through the steps to get it corrected and over to the embassy so it wouldn’t delay the visa. That day at 5:00pm, the visa was issued.

We have nurses and physicians traveling the world each and every day with patients. It is important to ensure the not only are our patients safe and secure, but that our team members travel safely with all the proper documentation. CME operations team is always monitoring the commercial flights, reviewing travel advisories, and updating our information for entry requirements to countries. Next time you are traveling abroad and may need a visa or if it’s a new destination to you and your family, try some of these tips to enjoy your travel.


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