Airports are a passageway for people to arrive safely at their chosen destinations. The establishment aims to provide each person the best experience regarding security and comfort. That’s why each staff member is well-trained for specific situations, such as accidents, delays, and people not obeying airport protocol. Upon entering the terminal, all passengers must pass through a security scanner to further ensure safety. The scanner detects any harmful objects, such as weapons and hazards, and anyone causing the alarm to sound will be checked by security.
The process might be uncomfortable since your clothing will be inspected. Personal space will be intruded so security can allow you to confidently pass through. It’s best just to avoid having any metal on you if yu’re going to the airport. However, some people, like those who wear medical prostheses, can’t always take off their prostheses to get through security. People with artificial body parts often find it uncomfortable due to certain health conditions, and they are stopped amidst inspection even when they have done nothing wrong. Gillian Horton is a concerned citizen who experienced the inconveniences herself. And, according to her, airport security scanners are definitely anxiety-inducing for people like her.
Apparently, Gillian has been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a single mastectomy. For this reason, she wears an artificial breast made out of silicone. The prosthesis is inserted inside the pocket of a customized bra, which made her anxious during her first trip after cancer treatments. “There was the metal detector, and then there was a full-body scanner. As you go through security, you get directed one way or the other, and I was hoping I would go through the metal detector,” Mrs. Horton shared. “I kept looking at this machine, and I could feel my anxiety rising. I always know that I’m going to get stopped. I’m going to go through the scanner, I’m going to see it light up — how’s that going to make me feel?”
Aside from the distress, Gillian also mentioned that going through the security scanner reminds her of breast cancer. She recalls the procedures she underwent to fight cancer, which wasn’t something Gillian always wanted to remember. With that said, Cancer Council ACT has collaborated with Canberra Airport to provide a more comfortable experience for passengers like Mrs. Horton. Their security staff members are trained to be extra considerate to people with prostheses. Canberra Airport staff also worked with Mrs. Horton during the training. With her help, security has sufficient knowledge about breast forms, explaining how cancer patients feel with a scanner and how to correctly answer their inquiries.
“There were plenty of questions, and I was happy to share my experience,” she says. “I was told, ‘You don’t have to worry about that,’ but I do worry about it. It was much more about the language used — just to be mindful.” Verity Hawkins, chief executive of Cancer Council ACT, mentioned how sensitive it must have been for Mrs. Horton to share personal details about her life. “They have privacy concerns, they have anxieties about the scanners, and just to be heard and understood, and for people to take into account their experience, is really so important,” she said. It’s incredible of Mrs. Horton to step forward and be the voice of those who had a similar experience. Although it’s difficult to share such sensitive information about herself, she still went through with it to apply some changes to airport protocol.
Canberra Airport’s head of aviation, Michael Thomson, also conveyed that staff members were pleased as well. They were all cooperative in giving the best service for all their passengers — providing solutions to their problems. “We will continue to develop our screening practices and procedures to acknowledge some of the challenges that some people with hidden disabilities face when they come to the airport,” Mr. Thomson said. People with prostheses will now be more confident to walk through the scanner. Traveling will be less stressful than before as they are carefully assisted by well-trained security staff members.Whizzco