Advice for Group Leaders
Are you taking a group to Madrid for World Youth Day this year? Here’s a checklist of some things to think about to keep your flock safe and healthy during the trip.
Before You Go
- Is everyone in your group current on their routine vaccinations? Most people get these before they start school, but if people in your group aren’t (or don’t know whether they are) up-to-date on theirroutine vaccinations, they should talk to their doctors. There’s a large measles outbreak in Europe, and a lot of unvaccinated American travelers have been infected this year.
- Does anyone in your group have a preexisting medical condition? People can have “invisible” health conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, and seem perfectly healthy. But the stress and excitement of travel can cause the condition to worsen suddenly, especially if the person gets caught up in the excitement of the event and forgets to take any regular medicines. Make sure you know if anyone in your group has health issues and what you should do in an emergency, and make sure your group members know they should pack a supply of any medicines they take regularly (as much as they think they’ll need, plus a little extra, in case of travel delays).
- Do you know where to go for emergency medical attention? Quick—someone in your group just got hit by a car. What do you do? Don’t call 9-1-1; call 1-1-2. 1-1-2 is the emergency telephone number that can be dialed free from any telephone (including cell phones) in Spain and most of the rest of Europe. Group members who think they might need medical care in Spain should check with their insurance companies—most will not cover the cost of care received outside the United States—and, if necessary, consider purchasing travel health insurance. (Some travel groups may also cover medical care for group members.)
- Do you know where to go for non-emergency medical attention? Cuts, scrapes, and miscellaneous boo-boos are probably inevitable. Where do you go if there’s no first-aid station nearby? If you’ve packed a travel health kit, you may not need to go anywhere. If not, make sure you know the Spanish words for “bandage,” “Pepto-Bismol,” and other supplies you can get at a farmacia.
While You’re There
- Do you know where those hands have been? In Madrid, you’re not going to have to deal with someone getting malaria or yellow fever, but minor ailments like head colds and diarrhea are real possibilities. One of the best ways to prevent these is by making sure your group members keep their hands clean. Take lots of hand sanitizer with you, and make sure they use it.
- Is this city crowded, or what? There are going to be a million extra people in Madrid for World Youth Day, and some of the events are going to be crazy crowded. Try to keep your group out of the most densely crowded areas, and always know where emergency exits are. Also remember to keep an eye out for pickpockets in crowds.
- Hot enough for ya? Spain in August is going to be hot. Make sure your group members stay hydrated and that they wear sunscreen during outdoor events, especially during the hottest part of the day (approximately 10 am to 2 pm).
When You Get Home
Congratulations! You got your group home safely from Madrid—pat yourself on the back, but there’s still a little bit of follow-up that needs to be done.
- Did anyone get sick over there? If so, he or she might need to make an appointment with his or her regular doctor for follow-up care.
- Did anyone get sick after coming home? It’s probably not a big deal, but some travel-related illnesses could be serious, especially if there’s a fever. Any post-travel illnesses should be reported to the person’s regular doctor, and the doctor should be told that the person has just returned from World Youth Day in Spain.
That’s it! Follow these guidelines, and you’ll go a long way toward keeping your group safe and healthy during WYD 2011. For more information on safe and healthy travel, visithttp://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/news-announcements/world-youth-day-2011-madrid-spain.htmand www.cdc.gov/travel. cdC