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Florida schools to stock EpiPens to protect children

4:08 PM, May 31, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida - Florida is taking action to help save the lives of children who suffer severe allergic reactions at school.

Florida schools will now be able to keep a supply of emergency medicine to treat those life-threatening reactions under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

The new law allows schools to keep a supply of epinephrine auto injectors. These so-called EpiPens are considered the best way to treat a potentially deadly case of anaphylaxis.

The reaction can be triggered by peanuts, fish and shellfish and it causes a person's throat to swell shut.

Brenda Olsen of the American Lung Association says the reaction can happen fast.

"Unfortunately, if this reaction is not treated immediately people can die. It is a rapid, severe, explosive response to an allergen and what happens is the airways close down and if you don't get the medication in the person immediately, the episode can progress to a point where you can't save them."

Epinephrine can quickly reverse anaphylactic shock.

The new law adds to the Kelsey Ryan Act passed in 2005. That measure allowed students to carry EpiPens at school.

Now schools will stock the medicine, train employees to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis, as well as how to use an EpiPen.

"This law that the governor just signed into effect will help save lives," said Olsen.

The American Lung Association has a goal of making EpiPens just as available as heart defibrillators, which are being placed in boxes at many locations in communities.

Olsen says these severe allergic reactions are becoming more common.

"We've seen the reactions become more severe over the years and we're seeing more and more deaths. So it is a growing concern and this law is one that will absolutely save lives."

Dave Heller

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