STS Quarterly Issue 8: December 2019

By the Way, He Died of Ebola

By Dave McComb and the Eagle’s Wings Air Team

Imagine you’ve come to take custody of a family’s loved one. Nobody has mentioned any special circumstances surrounding the death. You walk toward the room where the deceased is resting, operating under your standard protocols and wearing your usual suit.

As you enter, you see four people walk out of the room wearing hazmat gear. As they exit, one of them says, "By the way, he died of Ebola," leaving you alone in the room with the deceased. Would you have arrived differently had you known? You bet you would!

A similar situation played out for airport staff taking custody of human remains. They had not been informed that anything was out of the ordinary with this particular transfer.

So imagine their surprise when the funeral home staff who unloaded the family’s loved one was wearing a variety of protective gear. It turned out the individual had died of an infectious disease, but nobody had notified the airline during booking. The transfer process ground to a halt.

All personnel involved in the transfer must be notified so that proper precautions can be taken in the event a loved one had a contagious disease such as: Ebola, Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (informally known as “Mad Cow Disease”), Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, or others.

A sealed shipping container or casket may not be enough if the plane encounters severe turbulence or there was an accident during ground transport. If it would be need-to-know information for your embalmer, it’s need-to-know information for everyone involved.

Read past issues of STS Quarterly.

Selected has partnered with Eagle’s Wings Air to help members provide each other and their families the very best in transfer services. When a family’s loved one needs transport on a flight originating in the United States, book air transport with the experts at Eagle's Wings Air.

Need a funeral home you can trust to help you with embalming, cremation or ground transport? Find one of the more than 300 Selected member firms who are STS Agents.