NEW BREMEN — A new bill allows schools to stock EpiPens in case a student has a reaction, which some area schools are beginning to implement.
“It’s a precaution. If if saves one life, it’s worth it,” said Lisa Steinke, nurse at New Bremen schools.
The act became effective April 21, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission’s website. It allows public and private schools and camps to use epinephrine autoinjectors without a license in an emergency situation.
In order to stock EpiPens, a district must go through two levels of training — one to teach everyone how to recognize anaphylactic shock and one to teach a designated group to administer an EpiPen — and have a doctor sign a prescription for the district allowing them to use it on a student who has never used an EpiPen before, Steinke said. All the students who have needed an EpiPen before carry one with them.
New Bremen Elementary and Junior High staff have been trained and the high school staff will be trained, Steinke said. The district also still has to write a policy and an emergency action plan that will be approved by the school board.
When the district begins to stock the pens, each school will need a minimum of two EpiPens, and the elementary school will need four, two junior EpiPens for students under 66 pounds and two EpiPens for students over 66 pounds, Steinke said. Each school needs two because if the person in shock is still having problems after five minutes, a second dose needs to be administered, and because it is good to have a backup, she said.
The law allows schools to accept private donations for the EpiPens because of the high cost, Steinke said.
Lima schools is considering stocking EpiPens, Nursing Team Leader Kate Morman said. She is talking with the school physician and working on a policy.
Morman believes stocking EpiPens is important because when students first begin school, they are exposed to different foods and are in a different environment, so they may come in contact with something new that they were unaware they were allergic to. Having EpiPens on hand could save their life.
“We definitely want to be proactive,” Morman said.
Columbus Grove schools has no plans to begin stocking the pens, said Joyce Kaufman, school nurse, in part due to the cost of EpiPens, the expiration dates and because the school does not have a doctor on staff. Also, Kaufman has found that EMS responds very quickly to calls at Columbus Grove. After talking to the superintendent, Kaufman does not feel EpiPens are necessary to have on hand.
None of the three districts have had any incidents before that the three nurses know of.