On May 13-14, 2013, Paralyzed Veterans of America staff and volunteers trained over 100 personnel from AirServe, a company contracting with United Airlines to provide transfer assistance (among other services) at Houston Intercontinental Airport. National Vice PresidentDavid Fowlerr, Derrick Perkins from Texas Paralyzed Veterans, Lee Page and Maureen McCloskey from the National Advocacy Program participated. Over five sessions, 120 personnel came to the trainings during down times in the work day.
Introductory remarks addressed personal information such as date, cause, level of injury and flying experiences. Derrick is lucky enough to have been flying for over 25 years without incident. Lee and Derrick both demonstrated their method of transfer from wheelchair to aisle chair – both are extremely independent. Dave related that he insists on certain people to assist in his transfer, and will not move from his airplane seat until his equipment is assembled on the jetway. Both Lee and Derrick demonstrated a transfer with a transfer sling, which no one at Houston had used outside of training. Then there were transfers among the AirServe staff, with critiques on communications, team work, and the security and safety of the passenger – all while someone played the part of the flight attendant or pilot insisting that the plane needed to go so the process had to be done fast.
There was candid discussion of catheters, ostomy and colostomies, leg bags, spasms, atrophy of skin, muscle, tissue, bone and the danger of pressure sores, being careful of any body part (feet, elbows, hips, etc.) that may extend past the chair, and essentially that the assistant needs to feel comfortable asking about anything they aren’t sure of.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's work in regards to airline transfer training