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The Medical Device Awareness card – making airport travel easier for people with type 1

Rachel Crawford tells us how she developed the Medical Device Awareness card after a difficult experience taking her son’s type 1 tech through airport security.

Headshot of Rachel Crawford, medical device awareness campaigner

Rachel Crawford’s son George was diagnosed with type 1 when he was eight. A bad experience travelling through Dubai airport on holiday, inspired her to campaign to create a medical card for individuals travelling with type 1 technology.

The Medical Device Awareness (MDA) card was launched in 2019 offering a practical solution to issues often encountered at airport security, with information on one side for Security Officers and for the passenger on the other. The card covers insulin pumps, CGMs and the Freestyle Libre and has full backing from the UK government.

However, this is a global problem. After further discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport, the card scheme was presented in early 2020 at the International Civil Aviation Organization meeting, which is a specialised agency of the United Nations. We were delighted that the card proposal was endorsed by their Aviation Security Panel and included in their security manual, which is widely used by authorities around the world and contains a template for the card. Since then, COVID-19 happened.

There have been some changes at airports with regards to health measures put in place to protect passengers and staff. However, we have been assured that the process for screening passengers with medical devices remains the same.

Guidance is that both insulin pumps and CGMs must not be either screened by x-ray or pass through the security scanner and that other screening methods are available. Spare pumps can still be screened with ETD (explosive trace detection) equipment rather than passing through the x-ray. We recommend that the MDA card continues to be used and that medical confirmation of devices and medication is carried.

As lockdown eases, the UK CAA are confident that although passengers will notice some differences, those travelling with medical devices will not be disadvantaged in any way in the coming months.

Find out more about the campaign and how to download the MDA card.