What to Expect at Airport Security with a Defibrillator

Whether you’re traveling for work or a much-needed vacation, having a defibrillator is no reason to avoid the airport. Keep these tips and concerns in mind for smooth sailing through airport security screenings with your medical implant.

Whether you’re traveling for work or a much-needed vacation, having a defibrillator is no reason to avoid the airport. However, there are some security and safety concerns to keep in mind when passing through airport security with an implanted medical device. Read on for more information about how advanced planning and clear communication can help simplify the security process when flying with a defibrillator or another medical implant.

Airport Security and Safety Concerns

Airports have a variety of devices and technology they use to screen passengers for potential threats. Passing through security is often an annoyance even for people without implanted medical devices, but it is important to remember that these procedures are designed to help keep you and the other flyers safe. The key is to be patient and understand the potential screenings you may face at a security checkpoint.

Full-Body Scanner

This common security measure will identify your defibrillator in the screening image and may prompt the attendants to conduct other types of searches and safety measures. It is also possible that the full-body scanner will sound an alarm in response to your implant. Full-body scanners are completely safe and will not affect the performance of your medical device.

Hand-Held Wand

After a full-body scanner detects your implant, you may go through additional screening with a hand-held wand even after communicating to the security attendant that you have a defibrillator. This is just to be sure that there is nothing else to detect on your person. However, unlike the full-body scanner, the wand’s magnets could potentially interfere with your implant if held over your implant for an extended amount of time.

Airport security measures vary greatly, but some stricter airport or security attendants may require additional screening even after the hand-held wand. This may involve a pat-down search to ensure that the implant is not interfering with the security devices’ ability to detect potential threats.

4 Tips for Smooth Sailing at Security Checkpoints

Don’t let your defibrillator keep you grounded. Keep these four tips in mind when you are flying in order to pass smoothly and safely through the security process.

  1. Pack Your Medical Device ID Card: Make sure to add your medical device ID card to your packing list and place it somewhere easily accessible during the security screening process. The best place to keep your card is with your ticket and photo ID or passport, so it will be on-hand as soon as you enter the security checkpoint. If you need a copy of your medical device ID card, you should contact your physician or the device’s manufacturer.
  2. Communicate Your Medical Situation: After placing your luggage on the belt, take your medical device ID card with you to the personal screening section. Inform the security attendant about your defibrillator and show them your card before you step into a full-body scanner. This helps the attendant know what to expect so they will not be surprised if your device triggers an alarm.
  3. Notify Personnel of Potential Risks: If the attendant wants to do a hand-held wand sweep after your full-body scan, be sure to notify them that these wands can affect your defibrillator if held over the device for too long. A quick sweep over your device followed by a more in-depth screening of the rest of your body is perfectly safe.
  4. Be Patient and Plan Accordingly: Airport security measures and policies vary from region to region. Allow airport security to take all reasonable measures during your screening process. Arguing with the officers will only cause you further delays. Plan ahead by arriving at the airport at least two hours prior to your flight so that you do not feel rushed during the security screening process and can clearly communicate your situation to the TSA officers. If you are checking luggage and flying internationally, you may want to arrive even earlier to ensure a smooth and safe process.