TSA Disables Diabetic Teen’s Lifesaving Insulin Pump – Take Action!

Savannah Barry, a 16-year-old diabetic from Colorado, is furious at the TSA after an agent at Salt Lake City airport 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.

Savannah, who wears her insulin pump 24 hours a day, had been at a conference with several classmates, and was on her way home when she ran into TSA agents who were not trained to deal with her medical situation.

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, but she was asked to walk through a body scanner anyway.

From abc4.com:

She said, “I went up to the lady and I said, I am a type one diabetic. I wear an insulin pump. I showed her the pump. I said, what do you want me to do? I usually do a pat down – what would you recommend?”

Savannah then showed agents a doctor’s note explaining that the sensitive insulin pump should not go through the body scanner. She says she was told to go through it anyway. “When someone in a position of authority tells you it is – you think that its right. 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.”

The 16-year-old walked into the scanner with some serious reservations “My life is pretty much in their hands when I go through a body scan with my insulin pump on.”

She was right to be worried. That’s when the pump stopped working correctly.

TSA agents then made the situation worse when they didn’t know what to do about her juice and insulin. “She said, because we don’t have the machines to scan the juice to make sure this is not an explosive we do have to do a full body pat down and search your through your bags.”

Ironically, that’s what Savannah wanted in the first place, but it was too late.

At first I thought this was another story about how teenagers are often treated with no respect or not taken seriously, which is something I often hear from my teenage students. But then I read this:

Sherry Ruesch, an administrator at Dixie College in St. George, Utah, who also wears an insulin pump, says she had an experience just like the one Savannah complained about. While at SLC International, she tried to just send her pump through the x-ray machine to avoid an issue. Agents told her to go ahead and wear it instead. She says that wearing became a major issue and led to a search, pat down and a lot of wasted time. “I would assume TSA agents would recognize an insulin pump and wouldn’t treat me like I had an explosive device strapped to my leg.”

Paulette Fowler, a nurse in Salt Lake City, was also asked to remove her insulin pump and run it through the x-ray machine. In other words, the opposite thing that happened to Ruesch.

Apparently this is not about teenagers: it is about incompetent and dangerous behavior by TSA agents toward several passengers with medical conditions.

If you feel that what happened to Savannah should never happen to anyone else, please sign our petition demanding training for TSA agents so travelers’ medical conditions are taken seriously.

And thank you.

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Photo Credit: screenshot from abc4.com


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

TSA agents consists of the same morons as the customs people do. Low wages, lousy training and most of them hate people in general and overseas tourists in particular.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam5 years ago


lizzie vierra
lizzie vierra5 years ago

I feel so much safer with these idiots in power.... they have now thrown a toddler on the no fly list off a plane, a destroyed a student's lifesaving machine, the student with the Arabic language flash cards, and lets not forget the elderly woman with the adult diaper ~ TSA has saved me from all of these yet we still find they have caught ZERO terrorists and have facilitated drug trafficking and allowed weapons in some cases. All of this inefficiency comes with not only a huge financial burden but also a destruction of constitutional rights

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold5 years ago

This is on the highest part of the insensitivy and stupidity list. To take the chance on ruining needed medical equipment which comes with a dr's note, saying no walk thru is the highest level of stupidity I can imagine. Hopefully this young lady got home ok, no thanks to the TSA.

Lori E.
Lori E5 years ago

Signed. Man, all I hear about is how incompetent TSA is.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago

Transportation Security Agency was ill-conceived to begin with. Their idiocy lately proves that they are more of a menace than the terrorists they are supposedly defending us against. Israeli manages to handle air port and other transportation hub security without anywhere near so much collateral damage.

George Boggs
George Boggs5 years ago

Fire the agent and their supervisor.... Dumb is as Dumb dose.

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

Outrageous! Petition Signed.

Mo Va
Mo Va5 years ago

TSA must be abolished now.

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance5 years ago

As a diabetic who takes insulin for the past 4.5 years, I haven't had to fly anywhere yet with my kit (not a pump), but believe me, if I have a problem, there will hell to pay. It is hard enough being diabetic, especially if you're trying to be very careful about food etc. But a type I diabetic like these people, are in that much more danger if their pump is not working. They can get too much insulin and go into insulin shock, or not enough and passout. Please if you are travelling and witness this type of activity, please help the person. This is very dangerous stuff we are talking about.

And to the TSA, get a life, and this time, ask for a functioning brain with it.