About Me

Steven Frischling
Live: HVN
Work: JFK-SFO-CDG-HKG
Contact Me

Fish has been covering aviation and transportation security issues since September 15, 2001, after walking away from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan following four days of documenting the worst aviation security disaster in history.

Having spent more than a decade-and-a-half as a full-time photojournalist, Fish now divides his time between building social media and social commerce strategies and solutions for global travel brands, along with researching aviation and transportation security.

Growing up at the end up New York's JFK International Airport's Runway 4R/22L probably explains Fish’s enjoyment of watching planes fly overhead. When not working or shooting photos, Fish can be found playing with (and cleaning up after) his three kids, chasing his dogs, standing in the kitchen cooking, monitoring radios public safety and federal radios and of course cheering for the Red Sox.

You can find Fish on Twitter at @flyingwithfish …and … join Fish every Thursday at 3:30pm EST as he hosts the weekly #TNI #Travel Chat on Twitter.

I’ve Always Said, If You Want To Sneak A Knife On A Plane … Disguise It As A Gun

Today’s travel moron of the week goes to a passenger at Baltimore Washington International Airport. There is not much more that can be said beyond … who tries to sneak a knife through airport security disguised as a gun?

 

Does this count as a double catch for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Transportation Security Officer (TSO), for stopping both a knife and a gun from passing through the security screening checkpoint?

 

Below is the TSA’s photo from BWI Airport.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

 

TSA_knife

Passport Stamps … We All Love Them, Except The Ones We Hate

Most travelers cherish their passport stamps, even the seemingly nonchalant business road warriors. A new passport, void of stamps, feels empty, as if you’ve been stripped of your traveler validity … but … sometimes certain stamps in your passport can cause some issues.

 

Yes, there are stamps from countries that can prohibit you from visiting another country, requiring some creativity to get around, and certain visas that cause questions, but recently for me, one stamp in particular in the lower right hand corner of one page has been causing issues.

 

The stamp in question is from my arrival in Taipei, Taiwan. The first problem this stamped caused was upon entry into Incheon, South Korea and a day or so later upon arrival in Guangzhou, in Mainland China. The issue was not that I had visited the Republic of China while enroute the People’s Republic of China … the issue was this … the stamp had been marked “VOID” upon arrival.

 

I do have a valid stamp from my arrival in Taipei, but everyone glances over that and seems to focus on the one marked void for reasons beyond my control.   The reason it was stamped VOID? Apparently the passport control officer in Taiwan didn’t stamp it on the right page … is there even a right page? I have seen agents stamp random pages, my back cover page, the intro-page over text … so what the heck is the wrong page?

 

Twice now upon entry back into the United States, where I am from and my passport is from, I have been sent off to a brief secondary screening by Customs and Border Protection due to the VOID stamp from Taiwan.

 

Have you experienced an issue with a stamp in your passport causing you some troubles? If so, share your stories in the comments.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

 

TPE_Void

Hassled At The Airport? It’s Not Always TSA … Exploring This Topic Once Again

Who is to blame, or at least complain about, at the airport? This is a topic that has been discussed before, but one that seems to need repeating. Reading my email, following Twitter and other online travel conversations, it seems that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are to blame for everything.

 

Yes, granted, dealing with the TSA can be a challenge at times, and the agency isn’t always known to employ the friendliest people, but there is plenty of blame to go around … and i’m not even sure where to start, so I’ll just go over the basics.

 

Passengers typically only encounter the TSA at the security screening checkpoint. TSA staff may be found in the departures areas and around the gates, but they do not often venture further from these areas, with the exception of K-9 units and Behaviour Detection Officers (BDO). TSA Uniforms are distinct, for starters with the exception of the limited number of TSA staff that are not unformed, the front line staff wear bright blue shirts, on the right shoulder is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transportation Security Administration circular patch, on the left shoulder is a circular patch with a black and white eagle racing through the United States Flag, with the words “Integrity * Team * Spirit * Innovation” and Transportation Security Administration“. On every uniforms shoulder, even the dark blue sweater or vests are epaulettes that read “TSA.”

 

With basics of the TSA uniform out of the way … let me dig into this …

 

First off, the person who may meet you at the curb and take your baggage to check it in is not a member of the TSA. This person is a SkyCap (sometimes referred to as a RedCap, but red caps are at train stations, SkyCaps are at the airport). As SkyCaps work for tips, they generally are very accommodating and polite, but should you encounter one that is rude … they are not part of the TSA.

 

So saying “The TSA took my bag at the curb and didn’t properly tag my bag” is incorrect. The TSA never touched your bag at the curb, and the TSA doesn’t tag checked baggage.

 

TSA Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are not armed. There are some armed members of the TSA, from the Office of Law Enforcement, but they do not typically work security checkpoints. If you see someone in a blue uniform, with a badge on their shirt and a gun in an airport, typically they are a police officer. They may be another Federal Agency, but at security screening, uniforms and funs tend to police officers.

 

Should you have a negative encounter at a screening checkpoint, stating that you felt intimidated by a TSA TSO because they kept placing their hand on their gun, would be incorrect. No TSA TSO would have a gun to place their hand on. You were dealing with some member of law enforcement and TSA TSOs are not law enforcement.

 

The people outside terminals handling traffic control and parking are typically from a Traffic Control unit, Police or Private Security working with the airport. The TSA does not handle traffic or parking issues.

 

Complaining that the TSA had your car towed from outside the airport while you went to drop your bags is incorrect.

 

The TSA doesn’t have cars towed and no commercial airport in the United States has allowed curbside parking in more than a decade. You can park for a moment if your car is attended. In some rare instances, you may somehow get someone to say you can walk into the terminal for a moment, but that is rare … but if you just parked your car and just walked inside, chances are the police or airport authority had your car towed … not to mention … how long were you inside the terminal that a tow truck could have been called, arrived and hauled your car off???

 

As for the TSA and arrivals … for starters, the TSA does not handle international arrivals, nor does the handle deportations.

 

Yes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the TSA’s parent agency, but if you encounter an interview upon arrival, while walking from your flight to passport control, or some issue with passport control, the TSA was not involved. If this happened to you, you encountered Customs and Border Protection (CBP), also a DHS agency.

 

At no time did the TSA refuse to stamp anyone’s passport and send them to secondary.

 

As you pick up your luggage from an international flight and walk towards the exit with the your CBP 6059B Customs Declaration Card the TSA is no where to be found. Should you find a Beagle sniffing your bag and someone asking you to open your bags, you have encountered the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) ’Beagle Brigade.’   The USDA’s APHIS works in conjunction with CBP and wears the same DHS uniform.   TSA didn’t ask you to open your bag, TSA didn’t question you … the USDA APHIS did, and you should have properly declared what was in your baggage.

 

Yes, the TSA is easy to blame, and they can blamed for many of their own issues, but there are plenty of agencies travelers can complain about when traveling within the United States.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

 

Travel Humour : Haggling For Your Visa & Your Name Is What?

Travel is inherently laced with humourous moments. Some moments may not seem funny at first, but after the stress of the moment is gone, you can look back and laugh.

 

In 2014 I had the good fortune, at least in hindsight, to laugh a lot during my travels … today I’d like to look back at one such quick business trip Nairobi, Kenya.   Before I dig into this situation that still has me laughing, I have to say I cannot wait to go back to Kenya and spend more than 17 hours in this gorgeous country, that has some seriously tasty food … but anyway …

 

The entry visa on arrival into Kenya for American citizens is US$50, as I was flying to Kenya from China, via Thailand, I arrived with the visa-on-arrival fee in Kenyan Shillings, rather than U.S. Dollars … big mistake. As I went to pay for the visa the Government Official refused the Shillings and told me she would only accept U.S. Dollars or “maybe Euros.”

 

Following a brief back and forth conversation the Government Official, she asked me how much money I had in U.S. Dollars and I answered that I had a $20 bill. She looked me in the eyes, nodded, and said, “That’ll do”, then took my $20. Rather than a Single Entry Visa being placed in my passport, I was instead issued Transit Visa and waived me along.

 

As unusual as that exchange was, while obtaining a visa on arrival in Nairobi, it wasn’t until I had left the airport and opened my passport to the page with the visa that I realized exactly how funny this whole situation was … why you ask? Well let me tell you why …

 

On the first line of the visa it simply says “Name”, and according to my Kenyan visa my whole name is “Eric.” No last name, just Eric … of course that is only relevant if we ignore the fact that my name is Steven.

 

Below a photo of my visa from Kenya, one that caused a few questions upon arrival in Amsterdam, Argentina and back home in the United States.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

Kenya_Visa

Captured Guns At Airport Checkpoints Up 22% … Are Travelers Getting Dumber?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began its organized reporting of firearms in 2006, a year in which the agency’s front line Transportation Security Officers (TSO) seized 660 guns at checkpoints. Here we are in 2015, with a look back at 2014’s numbers, where TSA TSOs seized 2,212 firearms passengers attempted to bring on board aircraft in their carry-on bags.

 

On the one hand, yes, the TSA has improved its front line screening of passengers, however, spotting guns has never been a real challenge for those monitoring the x-ray screening. Even the most poorly trained TSO can spot a gun … which leads to think one glaring question …

 

… are travelers in the United States just getting dumber?

 

You know what is even worse? 83% of the 2,212 firearms seized by the TSA at checkpoints, placed in carry-on bags, were loaded.

 

This is not a Second Amendment debate. Of the 2,212 guns in the TSA’s year end wrap up numbers all were stopped at passenger check points, not in checked bags. These numbers do not reflect seized weapons that law enforcement recovered from improperly declared checked bags … this is just from carry-ons.

 

At what point does someone forget they have a gun in their briefcase? How does a woman forget she has a fully loaded semiautomatic 9mm pistol in her purse?

 

OK … granted, 2,212 seized firearms from carry on baggage only accounts for roughly 0.0149% of all passengers screened in the United States … but this comes out to roughly six guns per day.

 

So now, having read through the full 2014 annual review from the TSA, I’d like to offer you, the traveling public, some general tips …

 

1) Unless you are law enforcement, and have completed the ‘Law Enforcement Officers Flying Armed” training, as per Title 49 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) § 1544.219, Carriage of Accessible Weapons, and have submitted a National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System Message prior to travel … or are a Federal Air Marshals, Federal Flight Deck Officer or a select Law Enforcement or Government Officials … YOU ARE NOT GETTING ON A COMMERCIAL AIRLINE FLIGHT WITH YOUR GUN

 

2) Putting aside the obvious fact that an assault rifle is not allowed in your carry on … keep this in mind … if your M4 carbine rifle, and related loaded magazines, are stored in a case that exceeds the maximum carry on length of the airline you are flying on, it wouldn’t be allowed as carry on, even if you weren’t trying to fly with a rifle as your carry on.

 

3) Common logic … placing duct tape on your grenade will not effectively disguise it from the passenger screening x-ray scanners. It just looks like a grenade wrapped in duct tape.

 

4) Any sold putty material will show up as a “brick” on the scanner and will be required to be hand searched.   Any putty marked as “C-4”, yea that’s not getting on the plane and you’re having a conversation with law enforcement.

 

5) If you need to travel with an improvised explosives device (IED) training kit, consider traveling with it completely disassembled, and packed in separate checked bags so it doesn’t look like ball bearings packed in putty, attached to a detonator, placed inside a deployment package.   You know what … just ship those components in 4 or 5 separate boxes. It ain’t getting on a plane.

 

6) If you must try and see if you can slip a gun through an airport passenger screening checkpoint, at least have the brains to not have the loaded firearm holstered to your body.

 

I love people watching in airports. Airports to me are the greatest place to sit, listen and observe … but the more I sit in some airports and watch and listen, the more I am convinced that as a whole we’re just getting dumber and dumber.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

The Illusion Of Transportation Security

Fences, concrete barriers and checkpoints surround airports, seaport docks and access points to railroad yards.   Securing mass transit and cargo shipping falls to multiple agencies … but gaps still exist. The far and distant corners of some airports have crumbling fences, or no fencing along waterways. Nearly all commercial and passenger seaports are vulnerable from the water and railroads have vast sections of unprotected stretches of tracks.

 

Securing transportation in the United States, and The World, is extremely important, but the more I dig, the more I find gaps. Some transportation security gaps are hard to spot, but blatant, such as gaps in the fence near the U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices at New York’s JFK International Airport; the ability to easily walk through a metal detector offered by TSA PreCheck with a 20oz bottle of liquid hidden in deep pant pockets … but today I was reminded about not just what some refer to as ‘Security Theater.’

 

Personally I tend to avoid the term ‘Security Theater.’ There are many aspects to aviation security the general public sees as useless that is actually functional. Yes, not everything does what security agencies would like you to believe they do … but overall I think ‘Security Theater’ is just a catchy term for many things that aren’t actually theater.

 

Today, while doing some research on the overall view of Transportation Security I encountered something I have seen before, but today it really stuck with me. What I drove up upon is it something found along railroad depots all around the Northeast Corridor, and from what I can tell, all over the United States. As I stood looking at what was in front of me, the whole concept of The Illusion of Transportation Security raced through my head.

 

So what was I staring at?

 

A muddy driveway from a roadway into an area of three mainline Amtrak Tracks, mainline signals, switch tracks, a few freight sidings and two freight spurs. The drive way is lined with barbed wire fencing, along with signs stating that entry into the driveway is prohibited … however … there is no gate. There is no way to close off the muddy driveway. The fencing just ends and leaves the area it is protecting wide open.

 

I spent 15 minutes walking around, studying the area, looking in all directions. I walked into the open driveway. I drove my truck into the open driveway. There are no cameras on the entryway, there is no lighting in this area, an area where electric high speed trains race through the switch tracks as they share the lines with electric regional trains, diesel commuter trains and freight trains.

 

What is the purpose of fencing and barbed wire if there is no need to climb the fence? Forget climbing the fence, anyone can just drive their vehicle right in, up to the tracks, up to the signals, up to the overhead power lines.

 

The purpose is The Illusion Of Transportation Security. If someone sees the barbed wire fence, it appears that the area is protected, but at this depot the reality is so many different entities need to have access that it would be impossible for everyone who needed to enter the area have a key.

 

So rather than install a fence, with a gate, that locks, the solution was just an open corridor of foreboding chain link fencing and barbed wire.

 

In general when people think of transportation security they think of airports and air travel, but the need to secure railroads and ships is just as vital.   Nothing can really stop people dead-set of causing havoc, many will always find a way, and we as a society cannot protect everyone and everything, but if there an effort to make something appear secure and it is not secure, the threat actually increases as people try and exploit that Illusion Of Transportation Security.

 

Look around; I am sure you’ll see it also.

 

Below is my photo of the barbed wire fencing that provides no security along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

 

20150114_Amtrak_Fence_0584_72

TSA & Reporting Of Seized Guns In NYC … Beating The NY Post To Their Own Story

This afternoon, after a few conversations with various people at a Federal Security Agency and Multi-State Jurisdiction Law Enforcement Agency, I became aware of an interesting, but misguided, story that is soon to be published by Philip Messing of the New York Post.   Rather than wait for the New York Post story to be published to refute it, I’ve decided to be proactive and go after the same story, but from a completely different perspective. Why? Because the whole premise of the story makes no sense.

 

I learned the same information from two different agencies, both involving in a rather one-sided pissing match … so this, to me, would fall under “the facts are undisputed.”

 

So … on with the story …

 

It would seem Mr. Messing has been furnished with a number of gun seizure reports from the New York New Jersey Port Authority Police Department’s (PAPD) Police Benevolent Association (PBA). Using these reports, Mr. Messing has been investigating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) under reporting the number of guns that the agency seizes at New York City’s JFK International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), both in Queens, New York. Now, if you follow the TSA on Twitter, or the TSA on Instagram, you can see why this whole notion of the TSA under reporting the number of firearms taken from checkpoints is utter non-sense … but let me get into this a bit further.

 

First, a bit of history. The TSA and Port Authority Police have been at odds with each other for a number of years. The PAPD, who has law enforcement jurisdiction over JFK and LGA, has long since exhibited a prevailing attitude that the TSA is encroaching on their turf, despite the TSA not being law enforcement and the PAPD not providing aviation screening services.

 

The tensions between the TSA and PAPD began to come to a head in April 2013, which I wrote about here, “When Pissing Matches Impact Security : PAPD vs TSA,” and have not eased much since. For reasons that remain largely unclear, the PAPD has on multiple occasions sought to damage the already tarnished image of the TSA … and it would seem the PAPD’s PBA is at it again with providing Mr. Messing with inaccurate information pertaining to actual firearms seizure reports at the airports in New York City’s airports.

 

The information the PAPD’s PBA provided to the New York Post indicate that a significantly larger number of guns have been seized at JFK and LGA than the TSA reports … this is entirely true.

 

Yes, many more guns are seized from passengers traveling through these airports than the TSA includes in its internal reports and external releases … however the TSA is not hiding anything, nor are they under reporting the number of firearms they have seized.

 

How is this possible? Let me explain … the TSA only reports on firearms that Transportation Security Officers (TSO) discover at screening checkpoints.   Any weapon recovered at a check point, including guns, knives, brass knuckles, the occasional mace club, claymore mine (yes, a claymore mine), is photographed, then photographed with the boarding pass of the passenger who was traveling with the weapon.

 

Guns that are discovered by airline personnel due to improper packing, improper declaration, or those caught traveling through the airport legally possessing the gun, but not having a New York State license for the firearm do not have TSA involvement.   These incidents directly involve the Port Authority Police, who investigate and confiscate the weapon. There is no need for the TSA to be involved.

 

The TSA does not confiscate gun parts inside of checked baggage, such as the two empty AK-47 magazines that were discovered in the checked baggage of a man flying to Yemen from JFK this past May. The two AK-47 magazines were discovered when Bassam Alkhanshli was flagged for the one way ticket he purchased to Yemen, and he was questioned by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). When CBP discovered Mr. Alkhanshli had not declared he was traveling to a foreign country with more than US$10,000, as he was required to do, his bags were searched.   The reason the TSA did not confiscate the two AK-47 magazines in the checked baggage, when the bags were screened, is that empty rifle magazines pose no threat to aviation security.

 

Yes, these rifle magazines violate New York State law, but the TSA does not enforce New York State or New York City laws. The TSA also took no action against Mr. Alkhanshli for possessing US$12,000, because cash poses no threat to aviation security. The TSA does not ask for international travelers to produce any declarations the CBP may require.

 

In fact, passengers need not declare ammunition in checked baggage either. Firearm ammunition may violate a local legal statutes, but it is not a threat to aviation security. The TSA is looking for explosives, things that can explode in flight. No, a passenger cannot have bullets in the passenger cabin, but bullets in the checked cargo hold, they aren’t going to explode and no one in the aircraft cabin can get to them, so they are not a threat.

 

Now, if the PAPD wants accurate firearm reporting numbers there is a question for them … why is it sometimes the PAPD notifies the TSA when they have seized a firearm at an airport … and … sometimes they don’t?   Wouldn’t a little consistency be nice in information sharing?

 

So, should Mr. Messing and the New York Post pursue the story, and following their previous coverage, just bash the Transportation Security Administration using half-truths and incorrect information, such as their story in the AK-47 magazines … I would sincerely hope that they realize the TSA is not under reporting the number of guns seized. The TSA is only reporting the guns seized at checkpoints that would have otherwise made it on-board the aircraft in a passenger’s carry on.

 

As I have said many times on Flying With Fish, it is easy to attack the TSA. The agency makes it all to easy some days. If you are going to go after the agency, at least do it with a real story, and research your facts, because just making it up and letting it fly does everyone a disservice.

 

You want a good story? Try the massive security gaps in the screening of certain types of vehicles entering the airfield each and every day at JFK and LGA that come in direct contact with passenger aircraft. Holes in fences with gaps in security camera coverage, where airside vehicles drive past all day, every day … one of these areas being right in front of the Customs and Border Protection Offices at JFK.   Now that’s a fun and scary story.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The TSA, Leaderless Again

The 31st of December 2014 was the last day the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had a leader, as Administrator John Pistole stepped down from his role to become the President of Anderson University, where he had attended college.

 

The White House and the Department of Homeland Security have known the TSA would need a new Administrator since late October, as Pistole announced he would be stepped down on the 27th of October; but as of today there is no short list of candidates for the position, no likely appointments, no scheduled confirmation hearings … and it appears that the agency will be rudderless once again for an extended period of time.

 

The departure of John Pistole is not the first time the TSA has been left leaderless, during its short existence. From January 2009, when Kip Hawley stepped down, through June 2010 when John Pistole took office, the TSA was lead by one its founders, Gale Rossides, who stepped in as the Acting Administrator. Gale Rossides was a good leader for the agency, but she had little control, virtually no political clout and those below her often viewed her as a seat warmer, until a new Administrator was appointed.

 

As the TSA has a history of being its own worst enemy in many ways, and pushing the boundaries of what its mission should be, leaving the agency with out a permanent leader firmly in place is significantly problematic.

 

Unfortunately the process of appointing a new TSA Administrator to lead the agency is fraught with political pit falls, and ultimately deters some of the best possible candidates for the job.

 

Leading an agency that is often in the political and media spot light, rarely for positive reasons, that is diverse in missions , is in need of internal reform and is often resistant to change … even some minor things that can greatly improve its operations … is a daunting task. Some logical choices may exist within the agency itself, but likely its next leader will not be selected from within the ranks, as politics makes that nearly impossible.

 

Let’s hope a new TSA boss is found quicker than the last, with their eye on the long term rather than solely on the here-and-now.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

Thank Goodness 2014 Is Over … Bring on 2015

2014 was a brutal year on many fronts.  Yes, traditionally people kick off the New Year on an up beat and happy note … and I’ll get there … but it was a brutal year.

For those looking backwards through rose coloured glasses, I am not. In the aviation world we had a number of major disasters, we have a Boeing 777-200 that just vanished that will keep conspiracy theorists going for years, commercial space travel had a major catastrophic disaster that hopefully doesn’t delay its advancements too long and while every year has crashes and incidents, 2014 seemed to be more than most years.

2014 saw the last commercial passenger flight of my beloved three-holers, as the DC-10 was retired, as was it’s successor the MD-11, as well as the British Royal Air Force retiring my favourite aircraft, the L-1011.

On a personal front, I let Flying With Fish lapse. Despite some fantastic professional projects last year, including leading a national campaign for Airbnb and building a global social campaign for SkyTeam that took me to 15 cities, 13 countries and 6 continents in less that two weeks, it had been a brutal year and some things had to be sidelined to focus on what is really important to me … my family, my kids.

I let many major stories slip through my fingers, including one where I was days ahead of everyone in my coverage, but chose to use Twitter instead of my blog in an effort to balance work and life … it was an experiment I would do very differently if I had to do it all over again.

For me, the past year was like a bad country & western song. My landlord sold the house; I moved and had no where to go for a while; I was temporarily unable to leave South Korea due to an immigrations issue; I was briefly detained on arrival in China (OK, no country song discusses South Korea or China): my old dog, my companion for nearly 12 years, passed away suddenly in Connecticut while I was all alone in a hotel room in London in the middle of the night …  and a few hours late, like something scripted from a 1980’s movie, at the exact moment my flight’s wheels touched down in Paris, while l was listing to Counting Crows these lyrics came through my headsets …  “and I have been to Paris, and I have been to Rome, and I have gone to London and I am all alone … and I have been to Paris, and I have been to Rome, I’ve gone to New York City, and I am all alone. All alone.”

So … now that 2014 is over, all I can say is onward and upward.   I have no idea what 2015 has in store for me, but I know this. I miss writing Flying With Fish. I miss covering aviation security and the airline industry.   I miss doing what I love and I miss finding the time and energy to do it … so I’ll just find the time somewhere and work to make it happen.

For those of you who have been emailing me asking where I have gone … I am working on coming back and getting everything in order to do that.   

OK … enough with the personal stuff … I have a lot of writing to catch up on.

Have A Happy & A Healthy New Year Everyone. Happy Flying!

@flyingwitfhish

The Problem With Hiring EMTs & Paramedics To Detect Ebola At Some Airports

It has been reported in the past few days that the United States Customs & Border Protection (CBP) is working with San Antonio based Angel Staffing, a company that provides staffing services during disasters and public health crises to government agencies, to hire National Registry Certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and Paramedics (EMT-P) to help screen passengers arriving in the United States from high risk ports of origin for the Ebola virus.

 

These emergency medical technicians are expected to be staffed at New York’s JFK International Airport, New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport, Washington Dulles, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International and Chicago O’Hare.

 

Never mind that JFK Airport, the airport that serves as the primary gateway for these flights, only generally receives less than 200 passengers per day that would receive scrutiny upon arriving from these points of origin according to the CBP, or that offering EMTs and Paramedics US$19 and $29 per hour for these positions is insulting … there is a red tape situation that is likely to occur in this being implemented at JFK, Newark or Atlanta.

 

Government agencies, licensing and regulatory bodies rarely work hand in hand, and red tape can throw any plan off course which is likely to occur here.   As CBP and Angel Staffing have made it a requirement that all applicants be registered with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NR-EMT/NR-EMT-P), the candidate pool becomes extremely slim in New York, New Jersey and Georgia … why?

 

Not all states recognize the National Registry or offer the National Registry, either at specific levels or all level of certification. Among those states that it would be problematic to find those certified as National Registry Certified are … you guessed it … New York, New Jersey and Georgia.

 

For now CBP is working with United States Coast Guard Corpsmen, who have completed their EMT-B training at the Health Services Technician ‘C’ School … although they are generally not National Registry Certified as most U.S. Military Corpsmen are not certified to operate as EMTs in the civilian environment.

 

Rather than testing individual passengers entering the United States, U.S. Customs & Border Protection should look into multiple person temperature screening channels, such as those used in Hong Kong and Taipei, that everyone passes through. The health screening channels can handle dozens of people simultaneously and identify those with an elevated temperature. These health channels with personnel who watch everyone walking through them are effective, reduce costs and do not impede the arrivals process.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish