TSA changes protocol to ensure safe travel for children with special needs after parents complain

Two distracted families and two incidents involving their children’s medical equipment – both involving TSA. After a month of investigating multiple calls and emails, FOX 35 was finally able to meet with someone from TSA in person.

They set the record of their policy, and what changes are made after our stories.

Easton, 5, was born at 35 weeks with a genetic disorder known as Cat’s Cry Syndrome, in addition to several other medical conditions that require him to travel with a medical stroller.

That medical stroller had to be inspected so his mother felt compelled to put Easton on the floor of Orlando Sanford International Airport while TSA checked all his belongings.

Then there is 5-year-old Ollie with spinal muscular atrophy and chronic respiratory failure who is in a motorized wheelchair.

However, mothers Jessica Carter and Amanda Groth say sterile medical equipment was put at risk, putting the child’s health at risk.

FOX 35 took the concerns directly to TSA to get answers, and for the first time, they agreed to meet with us face to face, to talk about what happened.

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“We don’t have a streamlined way to see what’s coming up for the day other than just using regular email,” said Mike Howell, a TSA spokesman.

Howell said after Groth’s complaint, they noticed flaws in the system.

Groth signed up for a passenger support specialist with TSA Cares, a program designed to help families with disabilities or anyone who needs a little extra help when traveling. Despite this, no one was there to help.

“Since then, we’ve found a few flaws in the way we look at the questions that come in,” Howell said.

Howell said they changed their protocol.

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“We have a way for the officers who are working that morning to have a complete list of all passenger support requests coming in for the day,” he said.

This change strengthens communication between TSA and the contractor to let them know when a passenger support specialist is needed, which can make the screening process easier.

“If they have medical devices, if they have liquid that needs to be screened, if they have pacemakers, things like that, by knowing these things in advance, we can change the way we do security screening,” Howell said.

Through the investigation, FOX 35 learned that Carter was not actually signed up for TSA Cares, he was signed up with a program through the airport, which explains why there was a miscommunication with agents who are contracted for TSA , but because of his situation, the contract company Trinity Technology Group is learned from him.

“Well, I think at the end of the day, everyone we’re looking at is our neighbors,” said Brian Tessier with Trinity Technology Group. “We see ourselves in these passengers, so you know, just treating everyone the way we’d like to be treated.”

The mothers of the two boys are not happy about what happened initially, but are relieved to see the change.

“It’s gratifying to see that maybe this doesn’t happen to someone else,” Groth said.

“I just think I’m really grateful for you guys making this story and following through with it; I feel like it’s making a difference,” Carter said.

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