Airports security–Guest Post by Jeanie Hanley

Have any of you users of The Vest out there ever failed screening at the airport security check point? Usually one of my various machines causes concern, either the nebulizer compressor, oxygen concentrator, or The Vest. Sometimes I’ve been the “concern”, being randomly chosen (I hope it was random!) for a pat down. Not until now had any of my life-saving, fabulous machines morphed from security alert to requiring the bomb squad to be summoned. Will the perks of CF never cease?

NOTE: call Hillrom to ask regarding airport checks

I was happily muddling through airport security, returning home to Los Angeles. Although clumsy with all my machines, my husband and I were thankfully 2 1/2 hours early. As requested from earlier security agents, all machines were carefully placed in their own bin as they squeezed through the packed conveyor belt. I always place my shoes and other removed clothing items ahead of my machines so that I’m not left there with my pants falling down without my belt or shoeless because the agents need to have a discussion over my “questionable” machines. Usually the nebulizer compressor goes through without raising any red flags. One of the other two have always been flagged followed by a manual check.

On this day, the agent flagged The Vest and called an agent over to perform a manual check. During a manual check, the dubious item in question is carried by an agent to a separate cubicle and inspected. Using a special swab on a wand and rubbing it all over the machine, they hope to maximize the possibility of detecting explosive residue. The swab is then placed in a machine and a series of tests are run. In the past their machine usually chirps with a green light and prints out a little result, at which point, I am free to collect my machine and scurry off to the proper terminal. This time I noted a red menacing light accompanied by an equally menacing sound. No worries, I thought. She repeated the test and again, the red light and alarm sounded. That’s weird, but I was not concerned because I knew the Vest was not an evil explosive and we still had plenty of time with 1 hour 45 minutes before takeoff. Another agent was alerted; he repeated the procedure and voila, another red light alarm. Then everyone started walkie-talkie-ing to each other in low voices and before I knew it, I was told that I would need a pat down. Really feeling like a criminal now! I passed the pat down with flying colors. Interesting that they left my husband alone to do whatever he wished. I, on the other hand, couldn’t leave to go to the bathroom or get food because they said I had to stay in their sight. Hah! They gave me a chair and I felt like the dumb kid with the dunce hat in the corner of the room.

While I waited for the bomb squad, I was subjected to curious looks from passengers coming and going and other security agents eyeing me suspiciously. My husband and I had not had lunch so he went to quickly secure some food for us. After 30 minutes had passed, we had finished eating and still no bomb experts, we started fidgeting because now it was only 30 minutes until boarding time. Finally two men approached who said nothing, barely even looked at me, inspected my machine, returned it to the conveyor belt and viewed it through the scanner. This took no more than 10 seconds. Suddenly I was free to go with my pesky machine. They did apologize for keeping me so long, which I thought was very kind of them.

It was nice to know that they are so careful, but with airport screeners so inconsistent (checking one machine one time, the other another time) and not giving the same scrutiny to other adults in the same party it seems a little odd to me.

2 thoughts on “Airports security–Guest Post by Jeanie Hanley”

  1. I was told by a TSA agent many years ago that some lotions set off those bomb detector swabs and so just as a precaution I should never touch the machine immediately after applying lotion. This has worked for me, and the vest has never set off the machine. I also find that if I don’t tell TSA agents what is in my bags, 90% of the time they don’t check them. However, if I tell them it’s medical equipment, they will swab it all down without fail.

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