Disabled passengers are being assisted in European airports. Every day Falck helps persons with reduced mobility on their travels in Denmark’s largest airport.
Persons with Reduced Mobility
At 11.45 am – thirty minutes before the plane to Zürich is about to take off – safety officer Søren Birkedal Madsen steps into Falck’s waiting room in Copenhagen Airport to pick up a passenger who has asked for assistance to get to his plane.
Nothing special about that. In 2008 Falck made a deal with Copenhagen Airport to help the 100,000 persons with reduced mobility who anually pass through the airport. Falck will assist passengers all the way from the airport train, metro or parking space to the moment the passengers is safely seated on the plane. And the other way from the plane to any transportation from the airport.
This deal was made because of new regulatory requirements specifying that inside the EU all passengers be allowed to travel on equal terms.
The passenger’s name is Rune Persson and he is from Malmö in Sweden. He is sitting with a cane between his knees and both hands resting nervously on his cane. He is suffering from a herniated disc and in Zürich he needs a second opinion from a Swiss medical specialist. He might need an operation.
”Can you walk to the car by yourself,” asks Søren and points to the little white buggie parked right outside the waiting room. Rune Persson says that he can - with a little support. “That is not a problem,” smiles Søren who is a foot taller and several pounds heavier than the Swede. He takes Rune Persson’s arm and they walk towards the Falck cart. Søren helps Rune to a sitting position and the small buggie sporting a red Falck logo drives away.
This service provided by Falck has emerged as a cooperation between Copenhagen Airport, Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark (DPOD) and Falck. DPOD has helped with advice about placements of meeting points at the metro, the train station, the parking houses and the taxi parking spaces. Furthermore, they have advised on how to make posting of signs and other facilities easily accessible.
Airport Passenger Assistance
In principal Falck offers their airport passenger assistance services to all passengers passing through the airport. Passengers who are unable to walk far. Passengers unable to walk the stairs. Passengers unable to move who will have to be carried to and from the plane. Blind passengers. Deaf passengers.
”This means that more people have started using the airport,” says Birger Anders Post, Falck Station manager at Copenhagen Airport. “When we began the operation out here I had a dream that some day a traveller would come by and say that he or she had started flying because Falck was present,” says Birger Anders Post.
“One day an elderly, American woman came by and said that that she was no longer afraid of flying because even though she had a walking disability she now knew there was someone to help her. Unfortunately, I wasn’t present when it happened and she was gone when I returned,” says Birger Anders Post.
When the little white Falck buggie arrives at the gate, Søren asks Rune Persson if he would like a newspaper and the disabled Swedish passenger says yes. Søren informs the staff on the plane that he is bringing a disabled passenger. The stewardess asks for a description of the man and they agree that the easiest way to handle the situation is to get him on the plane as soon as possible before anyone else checks in.
Søren helps the passenger up and holds his bag while he checks in and helps him all the way into the airplane. When he is seated he asks for his newspaper and Søren hands it to him. The Swede leans back into a relaxing position and smiles gratefully.
“Thank you very much. The service was great,” Rune Persson says to Søren who is leaving the airplane as the rest of the passengers are boarding.