Why The Heck Aren’t Epi-Pens In Every School???

Last year people freaked out about a bill to require Kentucky schools keep an epinepherine ‘pen’ on-hand. This year? House Bill 172 wants to do something similar:

AN ACT relating to emergency anaphylaxis medications in schools.

Amend KRS 158.836 to make provisions for students with life-threatening allergies to have access to an epinephrine auto-injector in school; require schools to have written emergency anaphylactic reaction response plan; require schools to keep an epinephrine auto-injector in a minimum of 2 locations in the school; exempt authorized person from civil liability for administering or assisting with the administration of epinephrine.

Sure, it’s a bill backed by industry and would make drug companies a tiny bit of money. Sure, it would cost school districts a couple hundred dollars a year. But let’s get real: it just makes sense. Epi Pens should be a part of every school’s first aid kit.

Rather than go on for days about how hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits occur over allergic reactions each year in the United States, let’s just focus on what’s going to matter in Kentucky.

Do you know how many kids have deadly peanut, shellfish or other allergies? Do you know how many kids have asthma inflamed by allergies? Or how many kids are allergic to bee stings and don’t know it? Of course you don’t – but this is Kentucky, so you know it’s a flipping lot of people.

You also know what it’s like to live in rural communities. And you know what it’s like for your kid to be in a school that’s far away from an ambulance service or emergency room. So imagine your kid getting stung by a bee at school or suddenly developing an allergy to an antibiotic they had no idea they had and slipping into anaphylaxis. Within minutes, your kid is dead because it takes 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive or 30 minutes to drive to an emergency room. If there were epinepherine on-hand and proper knowledge to administer it, your kid wouldn’t die, the severity of the surprise allergic reaction could be averted.

There is no debating this issue.

When I was in school, I fell into anaphylaxis twice. Once after developing an allergy to penicillin and swelling up like a giant, red beet. The other after getting stung and having no clue I was allergic. Both times, I was saved by an Epi Pen. But only because I had access to health care, had a health care professional as a parent and knew it was necessary to carry the ‘Pen’ for other reasons.

But what if I wasn’t so fortunate? What if it really did take ages for an ambulance to reach me? I would have been out of luck. Okay, so a handful of Democrats and Republicans would have fewer gray hairs. But there’s really no need to stifle this effort any longer. Like Jim Sublett says, “Protecting Kentucky children against a life-threatening medical emergency like anaphylaxis should never be a question; it should be something we do without question.

The bill is in the House Education Committee and will be discussed this week. You can expect a vocal minority to freak out because of the added expense to school districts but it’s hogwash. It is important to pass this legislation and important for all legislators to know they need to do what’s right for the kids of Kentucky. Especially in light of shrinking ambulance service budgets, costs of health care, hospital and medicaid shenanigans. If the Commonwealth can spend a few dollars in each school district to potentially save even a single life? Uh, hello? Let’s flipping do it.


2 thoughts on “Why The Heck Aren’t Epi-Pens In Every School???

  1. If the state would negotiate a contract with the pharmaceutical companies the way they do with Ford (dirt cheap Explorers), the cost would be a lot less. People can be trained to use it in less than 2 minutes (I teach First Aid) and anyone who can see can use the instructions printed on the Epipens.

    Anytime I hear the argument about cost in these cases, I ask – What is YOUR child’s life worth? A person can develop an allergy at any time in their life, so having Epi at schools IS a lifesaver.

  2. Excellent editorial, Jake. This a worthy cause and EpiPens are sooo dirt cheap when compared to an ambulance run or a hospital stay.

    Or in intangible costs such as interrupted school time and faculty/staff stress.

    And since children are priceless, there is no comparison between an EpiPen and a child’s life.

    Please keep us updated on the progress.

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