TSA Agents to be Certified for Compassion & Awareness for Travelers in Pain
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On May 2nd, 2019, flying from Reno/Tahoe to Orlando, following a veterans reunion, the TSA screening of my 80-year-old father who is a veteran and has Stage IVB esophageal cancer and is in extreme PAIN was ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. Had I the presence of mind through my anger, I would have recorded it and it absolutely would have gone viral. The TSA agent monitoring the screening and speaking with me and my father should be ASHAMED of his insensitivity and unprofessionalism. More than ten minutes of awkwardly repositioning my father, who expressed pain each time he was ordered to lift his arms, to remove his belt, and then for them to so thoroughly slide their hands up his thighs as high as possible of this 80-year-old man, to move him on the airport's wheelchair to check his back, and more, was unbelievable. My father's wife and friends stood in astonishment as they had never seen anything like that before. I explained again to the agents that my father has Stage IVB esophageal cancer and was in intense pain, yet I was ordered to not touch him or come near him, even though I attempted to quickly explain I could help reposition him so he was comfortable and also simpler for TSA to complete their task. They adamantly ordered I not touch him. They even moved him to inspect the very wheelchair he sat in just a few minutes prior, which was the wheelchair from the Reno/Tahoe Airport, not even my father's wheelchair; they tested the airport's wheelchair as well, placing him in even more continued discomfort. They pushed, they pulled, and as I stood there, helpless and in frustration, I was then unbelievably and rudely informed something I would not have imagined I would have been told: "well, there are other options for travel." Unacceptable. This was unprofessional, indecent, rude to my father who is 80-years-old with painful cancer and a veteran. No one should treat him like this and no one should talk to me or him in that capacity at all. To be callously informed that there were other ways to travel from Florida to Nevada for a veteran's reunion was disheartening, discouraging, belittling, mocking, unprofessional, and a clear failure on the TSA's part to simply use common sense, decency, and politeness to do the right thing.
The old saying of "this is how we've always done it," CANNOT work anymore. Dignity and respect for those suffering with cancer and in pain, or any other category of pain which requires even more dignity and respect and compassion should be available. We've all been yelled at by TSA. We've all heard stories that people don't want to fly anymore because the TSA is mean. We usually hear those stories from our older population and THAT IS NOT RIGHT.
I propose that the TSA create a separate line at all airports that are managed and monitored by qualified and separately certified agents who are trained in sensitivity, health and hygiene protocols (because they use the same gloves when they screen anyone, they never change them for the next person), and most especially for professionalism, understanding and for compassion and awareness of those in unique and painful circumstances. The traveler being screened might be suffering from painful cancer and need gentleness and compassion, and/or they are trying to maintain their immunity from being screened with the same gloves that were used on the last ten travelers, or the traveler might simply have a broken foot and not be aware of extensive pain they may experience from rough screening, a person with autism who may be fearful of being touched by strangers, or a pregnant woman. Let's make this better!
The TSA doesn't need any more complaints and we want to work with them, too, so we can continue to enjoying our flying experiences. Travelers don't want to be yelled at all the time to take our electronic devices out and then get rudely spoken to, or get rudely screened when suffering through pain, right? Let the TSA know that this is 100% a learning and training opportunity and that what my father went through, absolutely no one has to go through! Let's treat each other with compassion, kindness and awareness of each situation and MAKE THIS RIGHT.
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