Breast Cancer Survivor Creates Prosthesis ID Card for Travelers

By Carlton Purvis

If the individual chooses to undergo a pat-down and imaging technology shows an anomaly, or if the person sets off a metal detector, additional screening is required. The passenger can request that the pat-down to resolve the issue be done in private.

Lori Dorn, a breast cancer survivor who had a double mastectomy made the news earlier this month after blogging about her experience at a TSA checkpoint. Dorn said she was carrying a similar card and it was rejected by TSA agents who then subjected to her to a pat-down in plain sight of other passengers. Dorn said she was never offered a private pat-down.

TSA responded, “While an initial review indicates that proper screening procedures were followed, we regret that this passenger did not have a positive experience. Allowing the passenger to display her medical card should have triggered a more compassionate response from the transportation security officer, such as an offer on our part of private screening.”

Farbstein said the card provides a non-verbal way to inform TSA officers about a person’s medical circumstance. It doesn’t exclude them from security procedures, but “it offers a quick way of explaining the situation in a discreet manner,” she said.

In 2008, TSA also began deploying to airports nationwide a scanning machine that can detect concealed threats in prostheses. When being scanned with CastScope it’s not necessary to raise or remove any clothing. CastScopes are in 11 airports so far.

Paskett has had no problems using the card when she travels and says that it has been well received by TSA officers she’s encountered. She was actually in transit when Security Management spoke to her on Thursday.

“I think perhaps it’s because there have been some complaints and some pretty controversial things in the media about women’s experiences. I also think some sensitivity training is happening with the TSA agents. They’ve really made it a lot more friendly. But our goal was to help the women so they wouldn’t have to publicly say [that they had a prosthesis]…. And to help the TSA agent so they would know to employ a little more sensitivity when speaking to the woman,” Paskett said.

photo by aubellaloca/flickr


Cards, cards everywhere...

While this "info-card" of sorts is a good idea to some extent, it's hardly likely that it will make much of a difference in the long run. 

The main problem that we've seen with the TSA, and other security organizations handling airport security in other countries is the lack of training that the TSA has become somewhat famous for, and that other, private security companies (such as G4S and Securitas TAS) skimp on in order to save money and secure their overhead. 

Another important point here is that the myriad of such cards will, in the long run, only confuse both passengers and the poor security officers who man the checkpoints. Handing a security officer a card to read in the middle of a rush hour will most likely slow everything down and get everyone even crankier than they were before - that goes especially for the passengers awaiting their turn to either step through a scanner or go through a "pat-down". Instead, training security officers to recognize such "devices" and see that they are no threat will be a better idea. This will not, of course, guarantee that pasients with such "devices" will float past security every time, but that's hardly the point, either. It will, however, ensure that they are treated the same as every other passenger, and not be singled out specifically because of their condition. 


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