In episode #009 of the Life After Cardiac Arrest podcast, Paul talks with cardiac arrest survivor Joanna Balgarnie.
Joanna’s life as a military wife seems to be coming to calmer times as she and her family return to the UK after an extended period abroad. However, things don’t go to plan when she has an unexpected and sudden cardiac arrest whilst sharing a bed with her daughter in a strangers house.
Joanna talks openly about the event, the impact it has had on her and her families life and how she has overcome the problems that have been thrown at her since.
When someone gets an ICD implanted a common question is about going through security, whether it be at an airport or an event.
At airports, I have found the process to be very easy and stress-free. On approaching the body scanners I usually mention to the security guard that I have a cardiac implant and they route me to either a different machine and/or they do a manual check and scan using a hand wand such as the one below.
The guards are usually well trained and know not to wave the wand over the implant area and so the process is no more stressful than going through the usual route. It’s worth stating at this point that going through the usual body scanners should not be a problem either as they do not pose a risk to you or your device – but I just like the extra attention!
Anyway, last month I went to two events where they had extra security.
The first event was a Muse concert at the London Stadium (where the Olympics was held) and they had the full-body scanners and hand scanners. As usual on approaching the body scanner I mentioned my device and they routed me to be patted down and hand scanned. I re-iterated the fact that I had a cardiac device (I don’t always say ICD because many people do not know what that is) but instead of the normal scan excluding the device area, he blatantly ignored my request and scanned my device! I told him that he shouldn’t have done that but he looked blankly at me and told me to go and tell another yellow-vested guard, who I assume was his boss. I went and told him but he didn’t seem interested, even when I explained the potential seriousness of what the guard had done. Annoyed and slightly in disbelief at their attitude I proceeded to the arena for what turned out to be an excellent gig.
The second event was TankFest which is held at the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset. I don’t recall if they had the full-body scanner but they certainly had the hand wands. With my previous experience fresh in my mind I approached the guard and explained about my device. His response was, “oh ok, go on straight through then!”. I must admit I was a little taken aback and stated that I was quite happy for him to scan the rest of me, but he was insistent and just waved me through. Fine, as I wasn’t a security risk, but what’s the point of having the extra security if you’re just going to wave people through without checking the validity of their story?
So, whilst the likelihood of you having any trouble with security scanners, be it body or handheld ones is pretty low, be aware of the person holding the hand scanner!