Not All First Responders Carry Epinephrine

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Thirteen-year-old Annie LeGere of Chicago died after a sudden allergic reaction because the first responder was not carrying epinephrine.

Her mother, Shelly LeGere, is heartbroken, but she’s also fighting for change. She thinks the life-saving drug should be available in public places as well as in the hands of every police officer, fire-fighter and EMT.

Wait — are you surprised not every EMT is packing an EpiPen? We were, too. Keep reading …

first responders

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You see, paramedics carry either epinephrine auto-injectors, preloaded syringes of epinephrine, or ampules and syringes. Auto-injectors are crazy expensive and it only costs around $5 to administer it “the old-fashioned way.” But! Here’s the thing … not everyone responding to an emergency is a full-fledged paramedic. 

There are different levels of EMT and they all have different rules. An EMT-Basic does not always carry epinephrine, but they can assist someone in distress who has their own auto-injector. Sometimes they’re absolutely not allowed to carry it, sometimes they are — it all depends on the state.

All 50 states allow epinephrine to be carried in emergency vehicles, but only 17 states require that epinephrine be carried by all levels of emergency medical system (EMS) providers.

We are hurting for Shelly LeGere. It seems terribly wrong that even though schools are required to stock epinephrine, the person rushing to help in an emergency may not be carrying it. While police officers are trained in CPR, they often have no idea how to use an auto-injector … and they could be the first one to arrive at the scene.

In the paper Epinephrine for Anaphylaxsis: Underutilized and Unavailable, author Larissa S. Dudley discusses how most parks, pools, and community venues do not have auto-injectors available for anyone to use. If they do have them, they may be locked, hidden, not found in time, and the employees may not be trained on how to use them. She says epinephrine auto-injectors should be carried in all schools, parks, airports, pools, malls, and recreation complexes — easily accessible — and that the general public should be familiar with the symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to help.

If someone in your family has allergies, please familiarize yourself with your state’s epinephrine policy

H/T ScaryMommy

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

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