TSA, OmniPod, and Bomb Squad

11 Sep

When I travel in airports, I always get stopped due to my OmniPod being attached to my body. Typically, I get a simple hand swab to make sure the pod attached to me isn’t a bomb. However, one time I was held up for an hour and a half and had the bomb squad called on me. It wasn’t the pod component of the OmniPod that was the problem, rather a prototype I had made out of the pdm.

Below is the prototype I made. The purpose is to demonstrate how an OmniPod pdm could hold a rectangular “glucose card.”

As you can see, it’s somewhat of an odd looking device. If I didn’t know what it was, I’d be skeptical. I had the duct tape and “glucose card” on my OmniPod for roughly a month, until one day when I went through airport security….

I was returning to North Carolina from New Jersey and was going through security in Newark. As my OmniPod pdm with the duct tape went through security, the conveyor belt stopped, and a several people were called over to look at it. They were all perplexed by the device, so they called the supervisors to take a look at it. At this point, I was held in “custody” by the TSA officials. At least five different men with suits came to take a look at my omnipod with duct tape filled with the glucose card. I learned that the main issue they had with my prototype was the following: it was an electrical device (the omnipod) combined with an organic substance (glucose card) in a sketchy looking thing(the duct tape) which caused fear of a bomb. They decided to call in the bomb squad.

I was held for an hour and a half in TSA custody. I spent 30 minutes waiting for the bomb squad to come and check out my device. During this holding period, I was quite nervous and was worried I was about to go low since I wasn’t able to eat dinner when I anticipated. My OmniPod pdm functions as my glucometer, so it ended up being a 10 minute process to be allowed to check my sugars. I had a crowd of TSA official watching me check. I was at a 90, but felt like a 70 due to the stress. Eventually the bomb squad came, realized quickly this device was not a bomb, and I was free to go. I was told I was the biggest security threat of the day.

All and all, I learned a lot that day from the TSA. It’s another reminder about the potential difficulty when traveling, especially with a niche device like the omnipod. It reminded me that being a Type 1 diabetic is unique, and its important to always remember that.

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  1. Small But Mighty: Everyday Glucose Will Fit in Your Wallet! : DiabetesMine: the all things diabetes blog - October 12, 2012

    [...] understand you had a “little” trouble with the TSA while traveling a while back. You were detained by airport security for an hour and a [...]

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