Virginia and Maryland might soon pass legislation that would require schools to train teachers how to use epi-pens. Some other states have already passed legislation to that effect. This could help save the lives of children who have a severe allergic reaction while at school.
A little over a month ago, a seven year old girl, named Ammaria Johnson, died from an allergic reaction while she was at school. This happened in Virginia. It is suspected that the cause of death was due to an allergy that the girl had to peanuts. I’ve seen reports that suggest that another child gave her a peanut while they were outside for recess.
Ammaria broke out in hives. She told an adult staff member at the school that she was having trouble breathing. Both of these signs indicate that she was having a severe allergic reaction. The little girl was taken to the nurses office. Unfortunately she died before the paramedics could arrive.
It has been suggested that the life of this little girl might have been saved if the school had an epi-pen on hand, and was allowed to administer it. It would also be a good idea if the teachers and staff at the school had been educated about what a serious allergic reaction looks like.
An epi-pen is a device that resembles a pen. It is an auto-injector that contains a single dose of epinephrine. The most popular brand of it is called EpiPen. The only way to get one is to have a doctor prescribe it. It will last for a year, and then it will expire, and require replacement.
The purpose of an epi-pen is to treat someone who is going into anaphylaxis shock due to ingesting something that the person is severely allergic to. It must be used right away. To use it, you take the cap off the “pen” to expose the needle. Push that needle against the thigh of the person who is experiencing anaphylaxis. It will go right through the person’s clothing. Make sure someone calls an ambulance for that person.
In Illinois, there is something called the Illinois School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This act, (which may have been passed into law by now), allows children who require epi-pens to have access to them at school.
In Maryland, and in Virginia, there are bills that, if passed, would enable schools to have epi-pens on hand, at school, in case a student has an severe allergic reaction that requires the use of one.
It would legally allow schools to have epi-pens that are not specifically prescribed to an individual student. It would also protect the school, and the staff, against civil lawsuits for using an epi-pen, (so long as they used it in good faith that the student appeared to be having a severe allergic reaction). It would also require the schools to educate staff members about how to identify when a child is having a severe allergic reaction that will require the use of an epi-pen.
Image by Greg Friese on Flickr