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Heathrow and the Pump interrogations and scaners and xray machines!!!!!

Discussion in 'Insulin Pump Forum' started by .gurley, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. LooperCat

    LooperCat Type 1 · Expert

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    Possibly a silly question, as I’m on MDI and not a pump - several of you have mentioned that they swab... what exactly do they swab, and why? Are they cleaning it? Taking samples? Is it just the device they swab or your attachment sites on your body? I’m genuinely baffled, but I’ve not had much coffee this morning ;)
     
  2. briped

    briped Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    I imagine that they're swabbing it for explosives, as it contains liquids. I had it don'e to my little liquid bag once. It looked as if they were running a band aid over it. :)
     
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  3. kitedoc

    kitedoc Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    My doctor was given me a letter which states words to the effect " Removal of this pump device from this person may prove lethal". I end up on the queue where you have to remove your belt, shoes etc and step thru the oblong scanner. Nothing untoward has happened. Just make sure your trousers, pants etc can stay up without a belt !! Once I pre-empted the situation by having some cordage around my waist with the belt and tied that up once the belt was removed.
    I carry the letter everywhere now but most particularly with me at the airport. But remember that when you go into some Government buildings, law courts etc they have scanners too. I do not blame them for their practices but without the letter I would have had to retreat and not go in. A bit tricky if you are required in court.!
     
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  4. Celsus

    Celsus Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    This, is what they refer to and all travelers can be random by exposed to this swab test routine from time to time. Really harmless really, fast and easy. The security officer typically swabs the little test clothing piece across your hands, in your bag, across your toiletry items if you carry on such and also your diabetic equipment, laptop and what other interesting pieces he might find in your carry on...
    https://yourmileagemayvary.net/2018...d-getting-a-false-positive-on-tsa-swab-tests/
    And then puts that swab clothing back into the analyzer machine, which only takes a few seconds to report back.

    Btw a question to the pump users: Is it very troublesome to disconnect the pump to lay it loose on the separate luggage scanner belt, just for that 3-5 minute duration for you to pass through the body scan? (I stopped trying a pump like 12-15 years ago as back then it was messy with the feeder tubes, batteries, etc and I am travelling like 3-5 times a week with airplanes. But would have expected the technology to have developed to the better since then?)

    I am myself working in the medical field where we employ permanent implanted devices to our patients for pacemaking/neurostimulation and they all carry with them a medical ID card identifying the device and their need. We do not get any stories from them this causing any trouble in the airports, so surprised why the moveable and external device as an insulin pump really is causing such problems. The airport staff worldwide is seeing it all, all the time and on a daily basis, so its not like an insulin pump is something new to them.
     
  5. Deleted Account

    Deleted Account · Guest

    There are a few concerns for me with this approach
    - the luggage scanner belt goes through an x-ray at the point is the pump cannot be x-rayed.
    - as this is something that keeps me alive, I want to see it at all times and not risk someone picking it up or moving it
    - even if you put in down somewhere, you have to explain to the security guy what it is and why you have removed it and don't want it x-rayed.

    Most of us have (or should have) letter which explain what to do with the pump in an airport. I guess this is like the medical ID card you mention but, especially in the UK, an insulin pump is not a common device: about 10% of the nearly 4M people with diabetes in the UK have type 1 and of those about 10% have pumps and of those most people only take a couple of flights a year.
     
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  6. briped

    briped Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    My T1 friend once had to remove her pump when going through security. Can't remember which airport, but she had trouble reconnecting it. Small wonder she panicked.
     
  7. Celsus

    Celsus Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Trust me, most airports see hundreds if not thousands of passengers with external medical devices every single day.
    Among others they are people with e.g. bone growth stimulators, spinal cord stimulators, neurostimulators, a port, a feeding tube, ostomy or other life-critical medical devices attached to your body much like our insulin pump or even more 'hard wired', and where it is located before the screening process begins. Ideally you should provide the security officer with the TSA/Device notification card or other medical documentation to describe your condition.

    And also the device companies all provide the same guidance in this area, as does Medtronic with their pumps, which is aligned and in agreement with the security protocols in place for international travel in 'the western world'. Luckily most other places in the world follow these also... So for the screening they say submit the device for X-ray screening if you can safely disconnect. Consult with the manufacturer of the device to determine whether it can pass through the X-ray, metal detector or advanced imaging technology for screening and act accordingly. If you cannot disconnect from the device, it may require additional screening and those in sensitive areas are subject to careful and gentle inspection in separate location in the airport security area.

    For diabetic and/or pumper newbies I understand some may take this as a challenge, but thought after a short period of getting familiar with your new friend in life, then I thought disconnecting and connecting again the pump was both an easy and rapid routine, much like taking on a pair of new socks every day? Sorry, I don't want to diminish the trouble of being diabetic at all, but just wanted to highlight that IMHO then handling all our technical gadgets, taking multiple injections every day, taking blood tests 5-8 times a day is not really that difficult in itself. I thought that handling your pump was of similar routine or are all the smiling faces in all their colorful pump-adds all fake? :)
     
  8. Deleted Account

    Deleted Account · Guest

    This may be what you see from the medical equipment you deal with.
    However, the documentation I have from my pump manufacturer and the advice I have from my diabetes team is the pump must NOT be x-rayed.
    Perhaps this is over cautious but I would hate to damage it and then find out, because I was not following the manufacturers advice, they would not replace it under warranty.
    Therefore, I will continue to keep my pump on me through airport security.
     
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  9. Celsus

    Celsus Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    It is not based on 'the devices I deal with?? It is what the security agencies have established as rules based on collaboration with the medical device manufacturers association. And then don't take snippets out of contents please, as it continues: "...Consult with the manufacturer of the device to determine whether it can pass through the X-ray, metal detector or advanced imaging technology for screening and act accordingly." :)
    And there you are correct, Medtronic and other insulin pump manufacturers have not done the full device market approval procedure (cheap bastards) including testing their insulin pumps going through xray machines of the type you find in airport security. Reason why most write in their guidance that you should not put it onto the conveyor for that machine but ask for manual inspection. I am delighted that mobile phones, digital cameras, iPads, Abbott Libre and all the other stuff 'we cant live without in these modern times' can go through without manual hassle in the airports. Too bad the insulin pump manufacturers are so profit fixated they don't do their device testing all out before launching it to their end-customer.
     
  10. dancer

    dancer Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I've read somewhere that if Medtronic pumps are put through x-rays, there is a risk that this will cause the pump to give too much insulin. I for one, have no intention of risking this.
     
  11. Celsus

    Celsus Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    No, why should you? Who insist you should do that anyway? Very interested to know.
     
  12. porl69

    porl69 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Come on now people, I know and understand that this issue is a pain in the posterior BUT surely we all realize that this is for our own security and safety. Checks have to be made and if that involves swabbing pumps then I really don't mind.
     
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  13. Celsus

    Celsus Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Agreed @porl69, I don't get the hysteria about this subject. But maybe we are just a couple of old farts taking our diabetes and all its trouble too casually.

    Happy travel everybody - Enjoy life!
    Its simpler than you may think, so stop worrying and get going. :)
     
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  14. porl69

    porl69 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Been trying to put a reply on this for a while. Every time I have wrote something it looks wrong. I am not one to normally hold back BUT this seems to be a sensitive issue
     
  15. fairylights

    fairylights Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    don't think anyone has any issue with getting their pump swabbed, the problem is if they try to make your pump go through either the xray machine or the full body scanner. The manufacturer of my pump says these machines may cause the pump to malfunction, and possibly give you far too much insulin There have been stories of security refusing to swab and trying to force people with pumps through body scanners, or people taking the pump off and security putting through xray nachine.

    Personally this has never happened to me but from the UK I usually fly through Edinburgh where security guarantee never to ask an insulin punp user to remove pump I have been stopped in Budapest and Iraklion where they did a manual search and swab.
     
  16. porl69

    porl69 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Got you, I now see what you mean. I stand corrected. Maybe, in the not too distant future, I will be on here saying the exact same thing as I am pushing for a pump with my diabetes team now
     
  17. Danaemac

    Danaemac Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I had an experience with this in lhr last yr I entered security and beeped ( of course I did ) I advised insulin pump everything was on the belt by this point except the pumps, I walked through advised I couldn’t go in the body scanner was told I could if I took the pump off I agreed but reiterated that the pump couldn’t be scanned and handed them to the security officer for swabbing while I went in the body scanner when i came out I asked for my pump and she said it would be through the machine in a minute, I flipped and the response was you told me it couldn’t be scanned you said nothing about X-ray I advised her to read the letter that she had been handed 5 mins previously whilst I packed my bag, I was on my way to a connecting flight but stopped and spoke briefly to a supervisor who advised they all know how to deal with pumps and she would go and deal with it, when I got home after contacting animas about loan and actual pump for replacement a harsh email was sent to Heathrow although I have had no response 18mths later we shall see how it goes in October
     
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  18. gemma_T1

    gemma_T1 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I think that every person has had various different experiences ... addressing firstly your friend with the pacemaker ... most people with or without training will have some knowledge what a pacemaker is and does. Pregnancy everyone knows here should be no X-rays etc. However, insulin pumps don’t have the same let’s say “fame” and this leads to confusion and in some cases upsetting and distressing if not dangerous experiences.
    I, like other mortals including diabetics, am informed as to why we have to go through security checks, and that’s fine, I don’t think we take issue with having to take off shoes etc. if that’s what we have to do or have our pump swabbed and a correctly done pat down. What I totally take issue with is the total lack of knowledge, obtuseness and rudeness I have to deal with almost every time I fly in the Uk.

    I have been forced into a total body scanner in two different UK airports with my pump still attached (by the way my infusion set has a metal needle in my tummy) threatened with the police if I do not comply... I would like to say I am always very polite and try to explain why I cannot go inside or why my pump cannot go through the X Ray. I have all the documents needed but they are not interested at all. I never shout or make a fuss ... which is probably why I’m writing here to get it out of my system and which is also possibly he reason why I got into the scanner twice

    As to your point that we should be more forgiving with people who don’t understand, there is no excuse for ignorance when it is your job!!!! If I used ignorance or rudeness in mine I’d be fired. This will turn into a rant and I’m sorry, but like the majority of people I am very polite and try to show documents and I am very respectful and I would say in this situation you will rarely get a person or indeed a diabetic who isn’t ... however that is beside the point, a person at security should treat all travellers with respect. They are doing a job and they should be aware of issues of passengers carrying insulin, pumps etc. this should be part of their training and if it is not then the airport is responsible for not training their security staff. This is my opinion is discrimination if not corrected.

    As I see it I have a health problem and I am trying to co- operate as best I can. I try to hand over my forms regarding my pump etc. no interest, I am saying that I am diabetic type 1 and wearing a pump holding my documents ... unfortunately this seems to infuriate UK airport staff rather than make things go more smoothly with the swab and pat down. No-One objects to this .. it’s when the staff what to take your pump easy from you and out of your sight .... it’s what keeps me alive if something happens to it I don’t have another one!!!!

    Ignorance when doing your job has no excuses for bad behaviour
    Also I would like to point out that I was really disappointed in the part of your post where as you are diabetic yourself you think every diabetic should be like you ... some diabetics do need a wheelchair or some other such aid as they have diabetic complications for example neuropathy which would make it very difficult and painful to walk.

    Diabetes affects different people in different ways some are lucky, some are not so much. It’s a nasty disease and I think a little more comprehension and understanding from staff working at airports would go a long way towards making what is often a very stressful journey a little bit less stressful.

    I am obviously glad that you are in good health and have good control of your diabetes, but always remember that not every diabetic finds themselves in your position.... before you judge try walking on their shoes...

    I don’t mean to offend you or others at all... but I feel very strongly that Uk airport staff and all airline staff need better training to deal with diabetes as sometimes things don’t always go to plan no matter how hard you try .. for example a hypo can come up and completely surprise you at the worst time and if you’re on a flight you need staff to be able to aid you if you are unable to reach your sugar supply. A simple addition to the first aid course I imagine they all have to follow..

    I wish everyone a safe flight and airport experience and hope that in future procedures that are followed all over Europe are implemented in the UK.

    Best wishes
     
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  19. sprokowski

    sprokowski Type 1 · Member

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    Oh wow, you’re disappointed in me for sharing my experiences and opinions? That’s very rude. At no point have I tried to make excuses for people being treated badly, rudely or unfairly, I have just put out there another point of view. My friend who has a pacemaker is 20 so actually I wouldn’t expect that and it is rather unusual. Telling me I’m ignorant for thinking everyone is like me, again, is very rude. When you have just seen someone stand in a queue with no issues, lug 2 30kg bags onto a belt, and then after everything say ‘yeh I’m diabetic so can I get a wheelchair?’ And you then ask the normal questions about how far they can walk and stairs etc and they seem confused and then when you tell them it’ll be a 30-60min wait and they won’t have time for shopping and they say ‘actually I think I’ll be okay’ DO NOT TELL ME IM IGNORANT. This kind of thing happens on a daily basis. This is people using a serious illness to try and get special treatment and fast tracked through security. I am very good at my job so find this very offensive. And these people are a contributing factor in some people’s opinions about diabetics and it infuriates me. I am simply sharing my own experiences, I am obviously not saying everyone does this but it happens a lot more than you think (along with people trying to tell you they have 30kg of excess luggage in their check in bags for a 2 week trip because they are diabetic they shouldn’t pay, even though the airline has already given them a 50kg luggage allowance, 10kg hand luggage. If they had come with a separate hand luggage bag full of medical equipment in addition to their allowance, I know I would allow that, but you shouldn’t have your medication in your check in bag anyway so this is BS). You know nothing about my health so don’t make assumptions. I have actually been on a flight with blood sugar of 1.8 and I don’t like making a fuss (and yes my DSN has had a go at me about this) my other half simply pressed the bell and asked if we could get a can of coke as I had very low blood sugar and within seconds I had one and was recovering. I have also had planes be diverted and I’ve had to very subtly ask crew for some food knowing full well there isn’t enough for everyone but they almost went into a panic apologising and saying I should have said something earlier so I have been very lucky, I’m not saying this happens to everyone and i have witnessed some very rude and disgusting behaviour from people. I do very much think that this is unfortunately such a common illness that everyone at security should receive some training for it. AGAIN, I AM SIMPLY SPEAKING ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCED THAT MANY PEOPLE MAY HAVE NEVER WITNESSED. So I’m sorry that I seem to have offended and infuriated you . Maybe the only way you can feel welcome in a forum that I joined to try and get support as a young person (I’ve been type 1 diabetic for 16 years) who it embarking on a new stage of her life that I’m going to need a lot more support as a diabetic because my life will become a heck of a lot more difficult, is by agreeing with the majority and not having an opinion.
     
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  20. gemma_T1

    gemma_T1 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    I did not mean to offend you at all and I am extremely and sincerely sorry that I did. I obviously misinterpreted what you wrote. I never implied that you were ignorant at all. I talked about the people at security. You said you didn’t work there if I remember correctly, you said you were ground staff and didn’t work in security. I read that you said you had people who wanted wheelchairs and other such concessions because they were diabetic.
    In all honesty I would never have imagined people faking an illness/complication that they didn’t have ... that is my naivety I’m afraid rather than me doubting your personal experience. Therefore I was sorry to read that part of your post because I found it hard to believe that people would behave like that if they didn’t really have a problem ... but then I’m probably basing it on how I would behave and imagining others to behave in the same way. So I apologize to you for that. I didn’t say I was disappointed in anything else but I don’t think because we are diabetic the security staff should treat us badly. I have had lots of bad experiences in the Uk but nowhere else and so that most likely clouds my judgement somewhat.

    I have also like you had a massive hypo whilst flying unfortunately alone and more unfortunately the staff who had taken my hand luggage away as there was no longer any room ... even though it was a very small carry on with all my diabetes kit in it ... had no idea what to do.. we were landing and they wouldn’t answer the bell ... I had to try and stand up at the 1.9 mark and beg to be helped, so as you yourself don’t like to make a fuss you can imagine how awful that was, when they arrived they wanted me to sit down and be quiet as they were no longer serving drinks due to landing and I would have to wait until we arrived in the airport and anyway they said diabetics are not allowed sugar!!!!
    With a force of strength I didn’t realize I had realizing that very soon I would be collapsed into a coma I said that if she wouldn’t get me a coke or anything with sugar she should see if there was a doctor on board or call for an ambulance to pick me up from the runway... I had to repeat myself as obviously I seemed drunk I think the women next to me said something and she did get me a couple of small cokes which saved my life.

    I was not trying to offend you at all. So believe me I am truly sorry .. my experience has been with staff at security with pump and on board not knowing how to deal with someone identifying themselves as type one diabetic and needing a sugary drink or indeed anything with sugar for a hypo.

    I said and perhaps in retrospect I shouldn’t have, I was rather fired up, that no one knows anything really about another diabetic and their complications.

    However, I promise you I really feel terrible about having upset you. My post was more about my personal experiences and the lack of training for staff than anything else and probably influenced by the fact inam due to fly to England very soon and am dreading it.

    I perhaps overstepped the mark interpreting your post in a way you never intended. I never stated your were ignorant or not good at your job. I was talking about staff at security and on board, I would like to underline that.
    As to your statement of stating opinions, you are of course entitled to your opinions as I am to mine and I would never imply that you weren’t.

    Please accept my most sincere apologies I hope I have been able to express my original intentions and apologies to yourself.

    Best wishes
     
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