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Senators Aim to Lift Cuba Travel Restrictions

by Lux Joseph 14. March 2015

Since the 1960’s the United State’s relations with Cuba has been tenuous at best. Starting with President Eisenhower as a partial trade embargo, John F. Kennedy would enforce the embargo on Cuba, restricting both trade and travel to the island only 90 miles off the coast of Florida. After about 50 years of waiting, President Obama would step in and decide to try and fix our relationship with our not so loved neighbors. Even though the trade embargo is still in place, there is a chance that we’ll see be able to visit the island for those summer vacations in the near future.

On January 29th, a bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of Senators which would allow American citizens to travel to Cuba. Supported by four democrats and four republicans, including Jeff Flake, Patrick Leahy, Jerry Moran, Dick Durbin, Mike Enzi, Tom Udall, John Boozman, and Sheldon Whitehouse, the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015” would nullify any regulation to both travel and transactions during one’s stay in Cuba. If you’ve ever been curious to try a cuban cigar, or you’ve been craving them since the 50 year schism, there’s a chance you’ll be able to try one soon. “Americans simply ought to have the right to travel wherever they want to unless there's a compelling national security reason,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake.

While this is a big step in the right direction, it follows President Obama’s efforts to lessen the restrictions that were already in place. New rules, put into place by the Obama administration earlier that month had allowed for some exception to travel to Cuba, so long as you fit into one of 12 categories with authorization to travel, which include religious and humanitarian reasons. Yet they did not allow for casual travel to Cuba at this time. This bill would work to change that. More so, under the new bill, the president would not be able to make restrictions on traveling to Cuba or on any transactions that may occur while on travel, not including instances of war or if there may be dangers towards American travelers.

Though it should be said the bill isn’t really being welcomed with open arms. There have been several statements made against any attempt towards building relations with Cuba, including those by Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez. “We should not aspire to help the Castro regime fill the coffers of its military monopolies with the dollars of American tourists, while the Cuban people still struggle to make ends meet and are forced to labor under the oppressive conditions dictated by their government,” Menendez commented. Republican Senator Carlo Cubelo also said “Lifting the tourism ban would infuse the Castro dictatorship with billions of dollars, which it would use to more aggressively oppose U.S. interests in our hemisphere and to further repress the Cuban people.”

One thing these embargos set out to do in the first place was try to coax Cuba into adopting practices of human rights and democracy. Yet Sen. Flake states “We’ve tried this current policy that we have prohibiting travel for about 50 years, and it hasn’t worked, so it’s time for something new.” The argument goes that in allowing Americans to travel to Cuba, not only would they obviously bring currency into the country, but would hopefully bring over these ideals to the Cuban people.

Overall, the decision lies with congress. Should this act pass, it would mean a huge leap towards ending the diplomatic wall that’s been standing for nearly half a century. It would also mark the beginning of a growing relationship between the two countries.

Sources:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/01/29/cuba-bill-lift-travel-restrictions/22518811/

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/299/all-info

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr664/text

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/01/29/254894/bill-would-end-all-restrictions.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/in-the-loop/wp/2015/01/29/bipartisan-senators-want-you-to-be-able-to-vacation-in-cuba/

Delta Flight 1086 Skids Off Runway at LaGuardia Airport

by Lux Joseph 6. March 2015

On Thursday, March 5th, Delta Flight 1086, coming from Atlanta, attempted to land in LaGuardia Airport during heavy snow. After the plane touched ground, about halfway through the  7,000 foot long runway it began to slide off towards Flushing Bay, breaking through a fence and stopping on an embankment just short of the icy water.

LaGuardia Airport is known for it’s short runways in comparison to other airports and for it’s close location to the waterfront of Flushing Bay.  More so, being close to three other airports, pilots are forced to navigate through tight turns while preparing to land. Since other airports have more runway space, planes landing in them normally glide over part of the runway before landing. John M. Cox, a former US Airways Pilot, now CEO of consultancy Safety Operating Systems, told ABC news “You put the airplane on the ground and land it.”.

Should a plane accidentally overshoot the landing, the Federal Aviation Administration made it mandatory that at the end of each runway there should be an engineer materials arrestor system. This would act as a measure to be sure the plane stops, as it’s wheels would sink into the material, acting to slow the plane down. The issue was that the plane began to slide off the runway about halfway through, at 4,000 feet.

Because the runway extends onto a steel pier over the water this makes it easy for the runway to freeze over, which would make landing more difficult in very cold conditions. Steve Blazejewski told the New York times that he remembered “skidding forward but veering off to the left.”

To add on to what happened, Jared Faellaci stated, “The wheel felt like they didn’t take, we were going so fast.” He goes on to say “One or two seconds later we skidded off to the left side of the runway.  We skidded for about 20 seconds, and you could feel that we had gone off the pavement. It wasn’t a smooth surface anymore, it was very bumpy.”

According to Patrick Foye, the executive director of the port authority, the runway had been plowed minutes before the incident. He stated that other pilots who had landed earlier “reported good braking action. ”

As the plane approached the river, it was stopped by the bern, which was used to stop the bay from flooding onto the airport runways. Foye said, “The plane did not make contact with the water.” While there was a minor fuel leak, it was quickly dealt with. The passengers made it off the plane safely, using the right wing to get down because the chutes did not deploy.

Jared Kaufman, one of the passengers, told ABC news “As we walked across the runway, it was covered with so much snow that I was wondering: who decided it was safe to land here?”

The airport was closed for several hours after the incident. At around 2:30, LaGuardia airport reopened one of its runways. It was initially reported that the runway would be closed until 6:00pm however all appropriate parties handled the situation very efficiently.

This isn’t the first incident LaGuardia Airport has had during the winter season. On March 2, 1994 Continental Airlines flight 705 began to skid during it’s take off, and found itself on the berm. Around 30 injuries were reported then.

There was an earlier incident on March 23, 1992, where a plane, holding 51 passengers, was trying to take off during a snowstorm and ended up crashing into Flushing Bay, killing 27 passengers.

At Commercial Medical Escorts, safety is a number one priority for our patients, nurses, physicians, and their families. Our dedicated safety committee in collaboration with our operations team, constantly are reviewing and analyzing our transports to ensure safety protocols are being met. It is important that we look at this from all angles to ensure we deliver our patients with a smiling face and peace of mind for every transport.

Meet Patrick

by Lux Joseph 10. February 2015

When you are ready to be transferred back home, Patrick is ready to take you. Based in South Florida, Patrick joined CME with a wealth of knowledge and experience in emergency care for patients. We are fortunate to have him on our clinical team and wanted to give you the chance to know a little more about him today.

What is the most enjoyable part of this job: There is no place like home. When someone is sick or injured far from home the process of healing is compounded. The overwhelming joy these folks experience when they finally get home is the best reward. I've never experienced such sincere, heart felt gratitude as I have from these troubled travelers and their families, it can get pretty emotional.  

Where did you gain your experience and knowledge in the field of nursing: I've been a nurse for over 1/3 of a century. My background is ER and ICU. I've worked in major teaching hospitals like the trauma ER at The University of Pennsylvania and The National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. I've also worked in small rural hospitals and did international relief work.  I've worked in large for profit facilities as well as local nonprofit and government hospitals. I've also had the good fortune to live and work in Thailand for 5 years, where I met my amazing wife. These varied experiences help me to adapt to most situations. 

What has been your most interesting transport? Why is that: All of my transports are interesting, each one with unique challenges. The most interesting was probably transporting a woman home who took ill while on a family cruise. She was facing a terminal illness and knew her time was short. She became very talkative during our trip and told me about her life, a very interesting story involving multiple continents, the golden age of Hollywood and how proud she was of her very talented children. She didn’t say but it was my belief she may have told me things she had never told anyone else, even her family. Her family contacted me just a few days after I got her home to tell me she passed away at home with her children at her side. It was what she had wanted and I was happy to have helped. 

What areas of expertise do you have experience in? Most of my experience is in the ER large and small. I have also worked in ICU, surgical ICU and CVICU.  

When you are not flying what do you do? I live in south Florida with my wife Pim. We like to ride bikes, explore the many waterways on our stand-up paddle boards and walk on the beach. We also travel yearly to visit with our extended family in Thailand. We always get travel insurance. 

What would you tell future clients of CME? First and foremost, get travel insurance. I've seen it work so well over and over again. Pay attention to local conditions and remain situational aware. Make copies of all of your travel documents and e-mail them to yourself. Most importantly have fun, put down your phones and tablets and enjoy yourself. If trouble comes, we'll come and get you. 

 Please describe a difficult trip and the outcome:  I performed an around the world transport. Miami, JFK, Istanbul, Toulouse, Frankfort, Seoul, Brisbane, LAX, Miami. 52 hours in the air over 6 days. Lay overs in airport infirmaries in Germany and Korea. 6 different lift trucks plane/deplane processes. The client had suffered multiple traumas, was on a stretcher, and required constant care. All transitions went without a hitch, the ground personnel where very helpful, the cabin crews on the different carriers were great. His family was very appreciative. “We were so afraid he would never get home again.” The client had a long recovery ahead of him but he was home with family and friends. It was a great experience.

 

 

 


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