Airport X-ray machines and a prosthesis

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Rowey
Rowey Member Posts: 37
Recently had the experience of being pulled aside at an airport after my prosthesis showed up as an anomaly on an xray screening machine. I had to declare what it was and have different screening as well as drug screening. A little confronting on first travel after mastectomy. Anyone else had this experience or am I being a little too sensitive??
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  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
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    It’s an issue - it’s never happened to me but screening systems are constantly being upgraded so it yet might. I’m not fussed personally, quite happy to let the staff feel
    embarrassed! But it’s unlikely to be handled sensitively in a busy airport when security is high on everyone’s mind, and carrying drugs in the body is quite possible. Possibly best to address it up front - tell staff before getting in the queue and offer to be screened privately. Attack is the best form of defence!  
  • Rowey
    Rowey Member Posts: 37
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    I have to say I was treated with a bit more sensitivity but everything was still very public. Your experience sounds much worse but surely there needs to be some awareness and education regarding women in our position. I understand the need for security but surely there’s middle ground
  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,314
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    @Locksley, your experience is just horrible. How upsetting for you. I hope you get a big apology and I hope that they change their practices so there is privacy and dignity. Good luck with the letter.
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,684
    edited November 2022
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    Welcome to the Forum, @Rowey - sorry to see you join our exclusive club.  As you can see, we have many shared experiences ... and discussing them here can lessen the stress and pain.  

    I am so sorry this happened to both of you, @Rowey and @Locksley - it should not have happened that way .... it is not good enough.   Good on you for writing a letter, Locksley - I would suggest sending it to your local member and the state and federal health ministers as well!  Hopefully ONE of them should answer.

    It would not be difficult to have an enclosed screen nearby, for the inspection to be done in relative privacy.

    I wonder if men with penis/testicle implants ever show up as an anomaly on the screening & if THEY have to show them in public ..... I bet NOT.

    @BCNA - can this situation be added to the BC Advocacy list that needs addressing urgently.  As @Afraser says - screening machines are getting 'better', so many more prostheses will be 'picked up' and many more women will be put in similar, unnecessary stressful and embarrassing situations.
      
    take care ladies xx

  • Carissa_BCNA
    Carissa_BCNA Administrator, Staff, Member, Moderator Posts: 252
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    Hi @Rowey, sorry to hear of your experience. 

    I'm sorry to read about your experience as well @Locksley. We have some information on travelling with a breast prothesis included in a My Journey article https://myjourney.org.au/article/2198 which details your rights and how to raise a complaint if you need to. 

    Our Policy and Advocacy team are aware of the issues that some people have experienced. We are hoping to raise awareness about travelling through airport security in the coming weeks. 
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,684
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    AWESOME info there, @AllyJay!  Thank you so much. 

    I will pass the pacemaker bit on to my brother!  I don't think he has flown since it was fitted.

    That is vital info that all women with protheses (liquid or other) should be told as soon as they've had their surgery - and to know their rights re privacy & pat downs!!  

    Here is the link to AllyJay's post - and a PDF of the whole page as well.
    https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about-us/what-we-do/travelsecure/travellers-with-specific-needs

  • Rowey
    Rowey Member Posts: 37
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    Thank you all for you advice and info. I guess I should have been better prepared for travel but I just didn’t think about it. I’m surprised at how much it has upset me. Issues come out to bite you when you least expect it. I guess places like airports will never understand that impact
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,684
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    I can fully understand why it has upset you, @Rowey - but if you hadn't been told of the link that AllyJay gave us - you wouldn't know the correct procedure or paperwork required to avoid the stress of the explanations/pat down/scrutiny out in the public arena!  The Person doing the scrutiny SHOULD have known & been trained to deal with it in a sympathetic way ..... but you also should have been advised of the necessary details, after your surgery.  :(  

    If you'd like to check out some other areas of the forum (even funny bits!) jump onto this thread - you may like to check out some of the other posts, on pets, gardens, art & craft & other stuff that we all get up to during the day 
    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/discussion/23477/a-big-welcome-to-all-our-new-members#latest

    take care xx
  • Rowey
    Rowey Member Posts: 37
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    @arpie you are very kind. I will definitely look at some of the “good stuff”. Mostly I’m great and coping well. I’m active and happy. But it’s always there and jumps out at you when you least expect it. I’m glad I bit the bullet and sent my first post
  • Locksley
    Locksley Member Posts: 938
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    @AllyJay @Carissa_BCNA thankyou both for your info.  Same I didn't think about it but I will now.  I will get a letter from my doctor.  @Rowey thankyou for asking the question on the forum.  Sending you a hug.
  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Member Posts: 3,373
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    OFFS!!! What a humiliating situation to be in, ladies. Being interrogated in a public space is shitty enough, being groped is something else. And probably crosses a number of lines, but what do you do at the time?

    I know they are only doing their job and are under considerable pressure, but a bit of respect would be appreciated. We are used to leaving our dignity at the door when we enter a medical facility, but really??

    The temptation to haul that chicken fillet out of your shirt and shove it under their noses would be almost irresistible.

    Sorry you both had to endure this. It's both infuriating and terribly sad. Mxx
  • Keeping_positive1
    Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 555
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    @Rowey hey, don't blame yourself for not knowing what you don't know.  I would expect that security staff at airports would be better trained to know how to deal with searches in a sensitive way.  They are "mongrels" and really need to train their staff better to deal with people with prosthesis and also with "artificial" limbs, they really are callous in my opinion.  Sorry you had to experience that and also @Locksley it really should never happen this way. 
  • Fufan
    Fufan Member Posts: 123
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    Thank you everyone for this information: I had no idea!  If we ever travel again, I will be prepared. We are widely travelled, and it has been my experience on a number of occasions (in the US, Switzerland, the UK) that some airport officials get their thrills harassing travellers, who are in a very vulnerable situation. Give some people a uniform, and they know no bounds!