Soon after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the USA (often referred to as 9/11 attacks), airports and other ports of entry worldwide increased the level of checks and controls that travellers have to undergo before boarding the plane, train or ship.
Entry into important buildings were similarly protected with increased technological surveillance. Different levels of conditions and equipment were introduced for liquids, sharp objects and other metallic objects, employing sophisticated metal detectors. These practices persist and are seen by travellers around the globe.
McVey, a frequent traveller, recently recounted his experience at one of the world’s biggest and notable airports about six months after the attack. As travellers on the day took turn to pass through the security check machine, he did the same when it was his turn. The machine’s detector blipped loudly with the lights blinking red.
He was respectfully asked to go back and pass again. This time the detector blipped even louder and the blinking light, turned into sharp flickering to and from either ends of the metal detector. McVey winked from the corners of both eyes in quick succession. With a small smile, he scanned around him to take a glance at the other travellers faces. The air of suspicion, curiosity, amazement and worry grew to almost palpable proportion.
McVey remained relaxed and calm. Nothing seemed alright or clear to the airport assistances and their supervisors. It was either him or the machine especially in those early days. These were days long before the present smart, hand-held metal detectors and rapid X-Ray machines.
It was seldomly done, but the guards asked McVey to go through the process for a third time and the same sound came on even louder. He explained that the more they made him go through the process, the louder the noise and the quicker and brighter the light.
On the third occasion, he looked back at the guards again, this time with a broad, knowing and authoritative smile. Then, he proudly announced, “I am the bionic man”. No body understood. All stood professionally and respectfully watching and speechlessly bewildered. At 89 years old, McVey has had hip and groin replacement. Part of his shoulder has also seen partial replacement. These correction interventions happened at different times and circumstances in his life, partly due to natural wear and tear of the bone and / or accident. The replacement parts were made from mixture of materials including special metallic alloys. He was also carrying a pacemaker with metallic parts. He looked fit and went about his affairs on his own.
On that occasion at the airport, McVey was travelling unaided. No stick, no wheel chair. However, to protect him from infection, he had a collection of medications including antibiotics. The medicines were appropriately packaged and sealed in a plastic bag, the type that has become fixtures in most the airports.
Hip and Groin – problems can be treated by replacement. Infection is a risk that must be avoided.
McVey’s story illustrates the direction of travel of life particularly in an aging world population. It has been predicted that many more people worldwide will need support of different types of medical devices. Infection prevention post replacement should increase in tandem to prevent internal complications from the installed devices.
Developments in medical science and technology through medical devices will assist to prolonged human life span. This will come with different healthcare needs and costs.
Pacemaker: helps improve heartbeats. Different types exist for various heart conditions – the figure shows one to three flexible, insulated wires (leads) placed in a chamber of the heart. Care must be taken to avoid microbial infection.
- Saliba, E. Massie, E. and Sia, Y.t. (2016) Review of cardiac implantable electronic device related infection. Dove Press https://www.dovepress.com/review-of-cardiac-implantable-electronic-device-related-infection-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-RRCC#
- Sandoe, J.A.T. et al (2014) Guidelines for the diagnosis, prevention and management of implantable cardiac electronic device infection. 2015, J. Antimicrob. Chemotherapy, 70 (2) 325–359, https://doi.org/10.1093/jac/dku383
- Surrey Orthopaedic Clinic: Hip and groin adapted from http://www.surreyorthopaedicclinic.com/conditions?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlY-rv9r63wIVxJTVCh19wARYEAAYAyAAEgL7t_D_BwE
- The Tech Journal – Pacemaker from https://thetechjournal.com/internet/web-security/hackers-now-can-hack-pacemakers-and-give-830-volt-shock.xhtml