Blog Entries With Tag: metal detector


Posted: Mar 29, 2012
Alien Abduction

Last month when flying back from Miami, I experienced my first scary situation with being a user of an insulin pump with a group of Transport Security Administration (TSA) agents.  I’ve flown many times and find TSA in the USA to be sometimes a little bit overzealous compared to my experiences flying from other countries.  There I just get waved through – no metal detector goes off – no questions asked with my holding my vacation loaner pump in my hand – they just nod – and I go through.  Now, are other countries more up on pump technology then the TSA agents?  Makes me wonder.

Now, it never has bothered me when the metal detector alarms, to be pulled over and then wait for a female agent to pat me down, swab my pump for explosives.  Often we are chatting about diabetes and they are curious about the insulin pump.  What they have to do is all part of protecting the passengers who are flying – as I could be a potential bomber and not be carrying insulin in my pump, but something else.  I.  GET.   IT!!!  The problem that occurred in MIA when returning back home to Canada, was that I had 3 agents insisting that I go through the full body scanner and I had to repeatedly tell them (as politely possible) that my Animas pump (and loaner pump) cannot be exposed to x-rays or radiation. 

The next thing that happened, that got me slightly worried is when one of the TSA agents asked me to hand over my loaner pump to her to be placed it in a tray.  That has never been requested of me before, I always continue holding it – it never leaves my side.  I asked her not to place it through the x-ray – at that point I was getting worried.  At that point with all that was happening I lost sight of that pump (Salvador Dali).  To this day, I have no idea if perhaps part of his failure a few weeks later and being replaced my George Michael was due to that agent putting my pump through the x-ray machine.  I just do not know!

So, now at this point, I had 2 agents insisting that the full body scanner would not do me any harm.  I told them I knew that – but my pump I was wearing CANNOT be exposed to radiation and I was fine with the hand pat down.  In the end, I stood my ground, and a female agent did their usual thing of going over my body, swabbing the pump (George Michael) and at that point, Salvador showed back up.  Again, who knows where he went, was he swabbed or not, because if he wasn’t, well, you know what he could potentially be carrying.

I know that many American insulin pumpers have written in forums that they never get pulled over plus they tend to hide the pump for some reason (mine is not noticeable as well - but I don't purposely hide it).  Obviously, they don’t set off the metal detectors or hand held devices that goes over their body.  Either it’s true; that I was abducted by aliens and some weird object was placed in my head that only metal detectors can detect?  Who knows?  

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Posted: Dec 22, 2010

Last week I got back from a few weeks of holidays with my family - it's a little tradition that we do every December - usually just myself and hubby - but this year we brought along my ILS - since they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  All went well, we weren't sure at first since my FIL has dementia, but he's been on an experimental drug since the summer time and he had no problems at all while on the NCL Sun with us.  He knew that once he reached the whirl pool at the back of the ship (engine props churning away, to turn around LOL).  He's got as great an attitude to his condition as I do to my having diabetes - so we make a great pair.

My biggest worry with the latest changes from TSA back in October was how would it be going through each of our countries security check points.  I'd read various blogs / news reports - all from the USA mind you - that left me scratchng my head as to whether or not I'd be experiencing the same thing as my friends south of the border.

The good news is - I found no difference in previous travel with wearing an insulin pump, or carrying all my various medical bits and bobs.  The only thing that changed for myself this time was the fact that Animas now has made it very clear that our insulin pumps should NOT go through either the x-ray machine (I used to put my loaner pump through that with my carry on luggage - this time I held it in my hand through the metal detector / pat down) OR to go through the full body scanner (which I had done earlier this year at Miami International Airport).  These devices can cause malfunctions in the insulin cartridge mechanism, which could lead to insulin over delivery.  Something I do not want to have happen.  Luckily, Animas Canada sent me a few wallet sized cards before I left which I never had to show, even when I told CATSCA and TSA agents that my pump(s) could not go through some of their devices for security.  They took my word for it.

Yes, as usual I set off the metal detector - for some reason Animas is known for this - perhaps due to the clip on the pump which is metal (I have experimented in past with removing clip, placing pump in back pocket, metal detector still goes off)?  Maybe I'm just a highly metallic person, from wearing too much fancy glitter eyeshadow  in the past?  Who knows - but I set the metal detector off.

The TSA agent wasn't aware the harm that could be done to the insulin pump - I was abit shocked by that as the Canadian side when I'd left were fully aware.  I think it depends on what training the agents have had, though you'd think at the major airports that I go through, they would be more up to date.  Maybe we insulin pumpers are a rarity?  All I know is that at least I educated the TSA agent on the damage that could be done to the pump, and I had what I consider a routine pat down like I've had in the past.  None of the more invasive methods that I've read about with genitals being touched/swabbed.

I keep on wondering if people who approach what CATSCA or TSA are doing to us as an invasion of their privacy - and that they have no right to do this - then perhaps their attitude makes them get more aggressive with what is being done to them.  I have absolutely no problem with what is done everytime I fly.  I always get pulled over, it's no sweat and with my latest trip, it was all done within 5 minutes and handled very professionally in my humble opinion.

I had asked the CATSA agent at the Pierre Trudeau International Airport in Montreal about the full body scanner and you get "picked" for that at random (e.g. every 10th person).  I found that abit odd as I thought it would be based on what the agent felt should be done.  I just hope as usual, that with the increased security, especially around the holiday periiod, that they maybe not only use these machines prudently, but also go based on visual inspection of the person.  If warning signals go off, pull them over!  Better to be safe then sorry is my feeling.

Safe flying everyone over the holidays!

NB:  If you don't have the time to check out the CATSA link above - please note - that Canadians who are diabetic are permitted juice and gel on their carry on luggage.  This is something that American travellers are not permitted to bring onboard flights.  I searched TSA and could come up with nothing except Americans are allowed "glucagon emergency kit".  I also tried to see what the British Airport Security had to say about diabetics with insulin pumps, and medications - and found nothing.  It seems that airlines leaving from UK to American destinations have to refer to the TSA guidelines. 

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