Maple Grove man has flying tips for those with medical needs
Summer is the time when millions of people make their way to the airport for much-needed vacations.

Jim Dahlin of Maple Grove will soon be doing his summer traveling. But his trip isn't for rest and relaxation, rather it's to compete in the national veterans wheelchair games.

"It's fun to compete," Dahlin said. "Whether you win or not, it doesn't matter. It's just out there having a good time."

He's been in a wheelchair since 2009 due to a neuromuscular disease, and back then, the thought of flying out of Minnesota seemed daunting.

"Initially I was a little intimidated by that, but you kind of learn what you need to do," Dahlin said.

Teaching people with medical conditions how to travel safely is where Jesse Neumann comes in. He's the president of Corner Home Medical, which has an office in Golden Valley. It's a medical equipment supplier that serves 10,000 customers across Minnesota.

"If people are new to a specific medical device that they're using for the first time while traveling, there can be a lot of anxiety there, and so we try to walk them through the process," Neumann said.

People with breathing problems need devices that aren't easy to take on a plane, but there are travel CPAP machines with solar panels that people can use, as well as portable oxygen containers.

"These devices run on lithium ion batters and can last upwards of 600 hours on a single battery," Neumann said, referring to the portable oxygen containers.

For wheelchair users, they have the option of buying travel wheelchairs that are lighter and easier to transport.

"And they fold up a couple different ways, so they can get very small," Neumann said. "So it's less likely to be damaged, and they fit easily in the back of a trunk of a car."

As for Dahlin, his wheelchair doesn't collapse, but he does one important thing before he travels.

"If you're flying especially, all the airlines have a handicapped accessible line that you should call," he said. "And you know, tell them that you want accessible seating."

Another important tip if you have special medical needs is to contact your doctor before traveling. Your doctor can often provide you with the proper documentation to help the travel process go smoothly. People should also check with TSA as well on what you need to know, show and do when going through security at the airport.

Delane Cleveland

July 11, 2017


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