Mike the Mad Biologist

Airport Security and Insulin Pumps

It appears that Logan airport security overreacted a little. From skippy:

star simpson, who sounds like the cartoon character host of the view, was the mit student who was arrested at logan airport last week for wearing a “hoax device,” which airport police thought was a bomb, but was really just geek computer art.

….so, because most people in charge nowadays are luddites when it comes to science and technology, suddenly the rest of us have to keep our heads down and minds firmly ensconsed in the 19th century as well? (make that the 16th century…there were actual machines at work in the victorian age, and who knows how many stereo-optic latern shows could be used to blow up america? the dept. of homeland security doesn’t want to take that risk.)

…but star wasn’t making a statement, at least, not to paranoid right-wing america. she was simply wearing her goofy geeky computer art. goodness, if personal fashion is now a reason to get arrested, we can think of a thousand more deserving subjects than an mit geek.

are we all supposed to go back to papyrus and stylus just because those in authority can’t tell what a bomb looks like? apparently so, according to the monday morning generals in the war on terra.

the students get it. the scientists get it. the luddites don’t.

too bad for us the luddites are in charge.

This leads to a serious question: does anyone know someone who flies regularly who uses an insulin pump? I ask this because an insulin pump isn’t something you can just remove–a needle is inserted under the skin and to prevent infection, you want a clean place to insert a new needle (you wouldn’t want to reinsert a used one).

Any horror or non-horror stories?

Comments

  1. #1 NoAstronomer
    October 1, 2007

    People with medical devices that might ‘alarm’ security personnel should have a id issued by their physician. My wife’s uncle has one for his prosthetic knee. It has a x-ray picture of the replacement, amongst other bits of info. I have a plate in my knee from a broken tibia I collected four years ago, but apparently it’s titanium as it doesn’t set off metal detectors.

    Here’s a comforting thought for all travellers: My wife has MS and is taking Copaxone which comes in pre-filled syringes – including needles. Last time we flew on vacation (in 2005) we got a doctors letter describing the medication etc so we could take enough for two weeks with us.

    Didn’t need it. 16 fully loaded hypodermic syringes made it through the security checkpoint and the x-ray machine and onto the plane without once being questioned by TSA.

    I’ll leave it up the biologists here to debate what would be the most devastating agent that we *could* have taken with us.

  2. #2 NoAstronomer
    October 1, 2007

    PS. I loved the part in the article which says “boston’s already infamous for being stupidly, senselessly scared”. No shit.

  3. #3 skippy
    October 1, 2007

    thx for the link, and the press, mike! yes, this story, coupled w/the ridiculous closing down of bean town due to some cartoon characters last january, makes me fear for common sense and personal freedoms, as well as for respect for science and technology. i grew up admiring science and scientists, and now it seems everyone wants to go back to the stoneage.

  4. #4 qubit
    October 2, 2007

    Well, I have an implanted spinal cord stimulator and carry an ID that lets them know not to make me walk through a metal detector or even wand me (induced current = bad). I’ve never had it outright rejected, but I’ve gotten very different responses at different airports. SFO bumped me to the front of the line, but made me go through a 15 minute pat-down while they hand-searched all my bags. Similar experience at SEA-TAC, though less OCD about the pat-down and bag search. Pasco airport just involved going through the motions, probably because my screener there had a knee implant that caused the same trouble in security (small airport, too — who’s gonna bomb a plane from Pasco?). Dulles was the worst: once they grudgingly accepted the card as legit (after calling the device manufacturer’s number on the card and subjecting my driver’s license to two different blacklights), they made me strip to my underoos to search my clothes, turned all of my bags inside out (and made me repack them), and hassled me about not putting my anesthetic cream in a ziplock and not declaring it (they eventually let me take it). They also spent the whole time dicking around with the external power source, apparently convinced it had to be a bomb. Totally fucked up the programs on it in the process, too, so it became useless until I reprogrammed it (not supposed to do that myself, but what else am I going to do for four hours on a plane?).