Tom Sawyer is a bladder cancer survivor who had to undergo a pat-down at Detroit Metropolitan airport. The TSA agent’s clumsiness caused the bag to spill into his clothing. The number of people with health conditions who are reporting unpleasant and downright unbelievable experiences at US airports is beginning to grow, and if nothing is done to improve TSA agent skills, such incidences will spike significantly over the Thanksgiving holiday.
There is concern that TSA agents are not getting the right training in doing a professional intimate pat-down. Sawyer says he that as he tried to explain his condition to the TSA agents it became obvious that they were not listening. He described the pat down as rough, so much so that the cap on the urostomy bag came off, spilling urine.
He didn’t get any kind of recognition or apology for the mistake. He had to face the prospect of walking through the airport in full view of everyone in his urine-drenched clothing.
Sawyer said he was in tears as he boarded his plane to Orlando. After the pat-down he had managed to change his urine bag, but not his clothes, due to lack of time. He got on the plane all wet, he said.
- “People who use a urostomy to collect urine, our biggest nightmare is that in public something will happen, my nightmare came true.”
According to John Pistole, head of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), “(I have) great concern (if people feel) like they have not been treated properly.” (CBS interview).
Late last week a breast cancer survivor was being patted down by a female agent at Charlotte’s Douglas International Airport whose hand stopped on her bra and asked her what it was. She explained it was a breast prosthesis. The agent said she needed to see it and forced the lady to take it out of her bra and show it to her.
In both cases the agents were described as rough and clumsy.
At Newark Liberty International Airport a female TSA agent managed to get her hand inside a passenger’s panties. The passenger later said “The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around. It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist. It was embarrassing. It was demeaning. It was inappropriate.”
While some have wondered about the quality of training TSA staff are getting for these pat-downs, others are beginning to question the suitability of some people for such intimate procedures, suggesting that a new type of employee psychological screening should be introduced.
Pistole told Fox News in an interview:
- “What I agreed to do is to look at how we can do this type of screening and do it less invasively. That has been the request (and) I’m open to doing that.
A challenge we face is how do we best provide security while respecting the privacy of everybody, but the bottom line is we know everybody wants to get home safely so how can we work in partnership with the traveling public to accomplish that”
However, how can ignoring an explanation from a bladder cancer survivor about his urine bag, then handling him roughly and clumsily, resulting in wet clothes, tears, embarrassment and humiliation, have anything to do with passenger safety?
Written by Christian Nordqvist