PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A woman says her implanted medical device stopped working after going through a new security scanning system in Pittsburgh.
It was supposed to be a special day at the ballgame, but a woman from Maryland says it turned into a nightmare.
As lifelong Pirate fans, Elizabeth Price and her husband, Robert, made the trip in June from New Market, Maryland, to PNC Park in hopes of seeing Andrew McCutcheon get his 2,000th hit. Though McCutchen delivered in the first inning, the Prices hadn't made it to their seats to see it.
"We didn't get to see it because we were at security for so long," Elizabeth Price said.
Because she suffers from tremors, about five years ago Elizabeth Price had a procedure called "deep brain stimulation" and was fitted with a medical implant device that delivers electrodes to her brain. And though she feared going through the Pirates' new security scanning system, Elizabeth Price said a security officer insisted.
Turns out, missing McCutcheon's hit would be the least of her worries.
"At the end of the game when I went to stand up," she said, "I couldn't. My husband almost had to actually carry me back to the hotel."
This season, PNC Park introduced a security system called Evolv, which is a scanning system now being used at Acrisure Stadium, Kennywood and other public venues across the country.
Unlike traditional metal detectors, Evolv systems claim to be able to identify firearms and knives while clearing other benign objects like cell phones and keys, speeding up the scanning of large crowds. Elizabeth Price carries a card that says she should not go through metal detectors but was told by stadium security that the Evolv scanner was safe.
"Was willing to be patted down," she said. "But the female security, she would not do it."
According to her and medical documentation she supplied KDKA-TV, her device quit working. She returned to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to have it recalibrated and has spent her summer going through rehabilitation to restore her balance and the strength in her legs.
KDKA-TV contacted the Pirates, who said they had no record of the incident and only heard from Elizabeth Price recently. The team issued this statement:
"We are obviously disappointed to hear of this situation and our thoughts are with her. While we cannot speak to the specifics, we pride ourselves on the quality of the fan experience at PNC Park. We are constantly striving to improve upon our entrance procedures to ensure a safe environment for everyone."
Meanwhile, Evolv says its technology uses what it calls "low-frequency radio waves" to detect weapons. While the company says this should not impact devices, "Evolv recommends visitors and system operators with implantable or wearable medical devices to consult their device manufacturer or physician for information relating to their own specific device."
"To be clear, the onus is on Evolv to show that its devices are harmless to these individuals," Conor Healy of IPVM said.
The security technology watchdog group IPVM has challenged Evolv's weapon detection claims and says the company also needs to demonstrate it's safe for people with medical implants.
"The device is highly similar to traditional metal detectors and could affect people who have implants like this," Healy said.
It it not clear if there are any changes coming, but on its website, Evolv suggests signs are posted for people with medical implant devices that they may want to exercise caution.
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