EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSWVDE Looks At Putting Epi Pens In Schools To Fight Severe Allergies
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kera Mashek
Videographer: Shelby Spradling
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Oct. 16, 2013 9:52 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 17, 2013 12:17 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
It's estimated that two kids in every school classroom across the country now have a food allergy. For some students, the allergies are so bad, even breathing in peanut particles, for example, could cause a severe reaction.
And now, there's a new statewide policy being proposed that could help protect kids with this potentially life-threatening condition.
Stephani Sink is a nurse and mom to 19-month-old Avery. This summer, she and her husband had quite a scare with their little girl, that started with a simple bite of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
"As soon as she took the bite, she spit it out and started brushing her tongue off," Sink said. "She threw up about a minute later and got sleepy. Then about 15 minutes later, she had hives on her mouth. That's when I knew she was having a reaction, and we took her to the emergency room."
From that moment on, the Sink family's world has been turned upside down--full of new precautions to keep Avery safe.
"We've only gone out to eat twice since July," Sink said. "We have to make sure that there'll be no possible cross-contamination because if they use the same cooking space for something with peanut or peanut oil, it can contaminate her food and cause her to have a reaction."
That's why even though Avery's not even preschool age yet, Sink's already nervous about sending her little one to a new environment, with new risks for an accidental peanut exposure.
"It terrifies me, especially the bus ride because the driver faces the opposite direction and can't see what happens," she said.
It's stories like theirs that've pushed the West Virginia Department of Education to draft a new policy recommendation for all schools for every building to have what are called Epi Pens, injections that can stop a child from going into anaphylactic shock, a deadly allergic reaction.
"As we grow in allergies, we're starting to worry, like with rural West Virginia how long does it take for an ambulance to respond ? In anaphylactic shock, you can't breathe, your circulation system is shutting down, so definitely West Virginia needs this policy," Rebecca King, with WVDE School Health Services, said.
If approved. school nurses would have a stockpile of Epi Pens on hand and teachers could opt to be trained in using them, too.
For the Sinks, it's a sigh of relief..to know kids like Avery, and those who might not even know they have an allergy, could have a new tool that could help safe their life in an emergency away from home.
The policy is currently in the public comment phase, and the Department of Education hopes it will be approved in December.
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