Will Dept. Transport learn from USA – or will cancer patients have to make concerns known?
No-one in their right minds wants to aid terrorism, and most of us feel more secure when we look at newer measures put in place at airports etc.to counter threats.
One such measure is overall body scanners, which produce an X-ray picture of our body (without clothes). Most passengers will go along with this, when they realise it helps their security.
However, there are concerns with the amount of radiation produced; one respected US University (UCLA) produced one report from top scientists saying they were safe; next day published another survey saying they were not.
However, this doesn’t excuse security authorities for insensitive treatment of passengers, and in the States the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) seems to have built up a chorus of condemnation in their handling of cancer and other patients, when they introduced body scanners.
In the States most airports will employ body scanners.
First, the airline pilots sued – they objected to being subjected to potential harmful build-up of X-rays (although the authorities denied this). TSA caved in, and now they aren’t subject to scans. Some patients may belong to RAGE, and understand their concerns.
But, in the States, if you don’t want to go through this process you have the option of a pat-down. A patdown is when the security agent uses their hands to feel over your body to check you aren’t carrying fire-arms, knives, anything illegal, etc.
As a woman, being examined by another woman using the patdown method, I have sometimes been made to feel distinctly uneasy by the intrusiveness and potentially sexual element shown to me by some agents – but one tends to shrug this off. You are fully dressed, although it can leave you feeling ‘violated’. However, I stress that the majority of patdowns I have had have been carried out in an exemplary and professional manner.
Now, Adrienne Durso, an American breast-cancer survivor passenger, has said she is going to sue the TSA for what she says was an intrusive patdown. Her lawsuit is being handled by the same solicitors that sued the TSA on behalf of two pilots; outcome of that case making TSA decide pilots will not be subjected to patdowns.
UPI (the respected news agency United Press International), says “solicitors Drinker Biddle and Reath LLP, which is representing Durso and several other challengers of the security procedures pro bono, says their constitutional right to protection from unreasonable searches was violated. The law firm wants the TSA to drop the use of whole body scans and enhanced patdowns”.
Adrienne Durso, from California, says she went through a metal detector at Albuquerque airport, but then was selected to have a patdown. She says the agent “heavily concentrated on my breast area where I told her I’d had a mastectomy the year previous and it just seemed to go on and on.” But said her teenage son was told he was not subjected to a patdown because he does not have “boobs.”
Could this happen in Britain?
At the moment the Dept. Transport are in charge of our security at ports and airports, and they haven’t been very forthcoming. As usual, they hide behind a fog of ‘officialese’, and won’t give definite answers when asked about procedures.
However, they have introced Body Scanners at Gatwick Airport. Currently passengers are selected at random for a scan, and if you refuse to have this your ONLY option is to go home. Luck of the draw – and you can’t travel.
When I have taken this up with BAA, Dept. Transport etc. arrogant officials refuse to see implications, and won’t offer cancer patients option of a pat down. If anyone knows Philip Hammond, currently Transport Minister – ask him why.
Surely it is time for the Department to be pro-active, and consult with the various patients’ organisations, charities, etc about the best way to handle passengers with prosthesises, ports, colostomy bags, etc? These organisations have raised questions, but from what one is told they are being fobbed off. I was on two cancer charity focus committees discussing this. We were promised we would be consulted before body scanning became the law – but NOTHING.
This needs to be addressed, and swiftly, before the new scanners are in place. After all, pilots could be potential terrorists, so if they are to be excused from searches, this won’t make me feel any more secure. But our concerns re concentrations of X-rays need to be addressed.
The Dept. Transport needs to realise cancer patients have very real needs and should be offered an alternative to a body scan.