Savannah Barry, a 16-year-old diabetic, is criticizing the TSA after an agent incorrectly instructed her to walk through a body scanner despite the fact she was wearing an expensive insulin pump. The pump stopped working shortly after the security check.
The TSA website provides the following guidance to diabetic travelers: "If you are concerned or uncomfortable about going through the walk-through metal detector with your insulin pump, notify the Security Officer that you...would like a full-body pat-down." Barry followed those instructions last week as she tried to catch a flight out of Salt Lake City, but she was asked to walk through a body scanner anyway.
"When someone in a position of authority tells you it is -- you think that its right," Barry told ABC 4 Salt Lake City. "So, I said, 'Are you sure I can go through with the pump? It's not going to hurt the pump?' And she said, 'No, no you're fine.'"
Then the pump stopped working.
The girl's mother, Sandra Barry, quickly called the manufacturer of the pump, which couldn't guarantee that it wasn't damaged during the screening process, reports MSNBC. She was told to disconnect from the pump immediately after arriving home in Colorado, where she switched to insulin shots.
Ironically, ABC reports that Barry ended up getting patted down and having her bags searched anyway because screeners needed to inspect her insulin and packages of juice.
"When they saw her juice, they panicked and they didn’t know what to do," Sandra Barry told ABC 7 Denver. "A diabetic is going to need a source of sugar, preferably liquid. I can assure you she’s not going to blow up a 737 with an insulin pump and three Capri Sun Juice(s)."
This incident highlights the need for TSA agents to be better educated in order to to deal with those who need medically necessitated pat downs, according to Barry, who has filed a formal complaint.
“It’s not a one-time thing and we’re going to keep putting the pressure on them,” she told MSNBC.
The TSA told HuffPost Travel in an e-mail: "Signage posted at security checkpoints informs passengers that advanced imaging technology screening is optional for all passengers, including those traveling with medical devices. The passenger has reached out to TSA regarding her screening experience and TSA has attempted to contact her in response."
Late last month it was reported that some TSA agents have been hired without completing full background checks.
Clarification: This piece has been edited for consistency to state that Barry went through a full-body scanner.