first aiders and epi pens

Posted on: Thu, 10/30/2003 - 2:10pm
KarenH's picture
Joined: 09/21/2002 - 09:00

I'm not sure what I should do here.

I work at a school, and am often the designated first aid person. There are two children in the school that are severely allergic to peanuts. Neither carry an epi pen. They are kept in the office.

I have volunteered to carry the epis during the lunch hours that I am on duty. IMO, to have to run across a field to get it and come back to give it is far too long when a kid is in anaphylaxis. The parents DO NOT want the kids carrying the epi, or the first aid person either. My comfort zone is definately smaller then theirs. The reason for this is that I'm concerned that if either child actually does need an epi and we can't get it to them fast enough, and then they die or something (heaven forbid)-*I* would be held responsible. I am assured that I would not be, but I'm not so trusting on that point. Besides-I want these kids to be safe. I'm watching them like a hawk on the playground right now, with Halloween being so close.

I've talked to the principal and other people, all are saying that if the parents don't want the epi to be carried around, there's nothing they can do. Is that true? I'm in BC.

Posted on: Thu, 10/30/2003 - 2:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

KarenH., what an absolutely crappy situation for you to be in. I know that here, in Ontario, the schools have always required that my PA son wear his Epi-belt. Even at 3-3/4 years of age.
I remember within the last year when we did some research about B.C. and their Ministry of Education policy re anaphylaxis and we found that they have NOTHING! So, I don't know what to say.
I can well understand your concern. As I just posted in Anna Marie's thread, perhaps the parents of both of the children need to read the study re Anaphylactic Deaths in Ontario. While you're running trying to find their gosh darn Epi-pen, their child could be dying. And a great majority of deaths in Ontario schools occurred for that very reason.
I'd show someone the article and see what you can do.
I don't understand why the parents wouldn't have the Epi-belt on the children, but then again, here, I wasn't given any choice. I was basically told Jesse HAD to wear his Epi-belt because they want the Epi-pen on his should anything happen (and without the expectation that he self-inject). Just so that it was that close to him.
I'd use the study from Anaphylaxis Canada to try to turn some heads, either school administration's, the parents' or all of them.
What a horrible situation to be in.
And why can't you carry the Epi on the yard?
Seriously, I'm just shaking my head wondering what the heck is wrong with these people.
I can understand perhaps parents being afraid of their children wearing their Epi-pen although there is no reason for it as far as I'm concerned (we have had no incidents in five years of Jesse wearing his - see Anna Marie's thread for more details), but why can't you, as an adult, and more importantly the first aide person not carry it?
The other thing that bothers me is that although both sets of parents object to their children wearing the Epi and you carrying it, when push comes to shove and if and when something does happen, you can't be all that sure that you won't be held responsible.
This one is upsetting. I can only begin to imagine how you feel.
BTW, do you wear an Epi-belt? Is it visible when you're at work? (there's a method to my madness of asking [img][/img] ).
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 10/30/2003 - 10:49pm
samirosenjacken's picture
Joined: 09/30/2002 - 09:00

I think your fear is a very valid one! As a parent, I say THANK YOU for being so considerate and downright concerned for these kids! You are right and the parents, unfortunately, are wrong! I don't think you can force anything though. But... and this is just my opinion but one I have developed after speaking to the school nurses. If something were to happen to that child on the playground, the school could be held accountable!! If the school thinks it's a good idea to have the epi pens on the playground but the parents REFUSE then the school principal should get it in writing!! This would remove the burden of blame from the school to the parents, where it belongs if they are refusing to allow life saving medication where there child is playing!
I spoke with a school official in Maryland who told me a similar story. The mother of a peanut allergic boy would only permit the RN to give the epi pen if her son was having a reaction. She refused to allow anyone but the RN to do it. The school tried to get her to change her mind but she wouldn't. They made her sign a waiver to this b/c of the legal ramifications if something were to happen. They would have been responsible.
I know we don't like to talk about putting on blame but maybe if the school makes the parents sign off of responsibility they will reconsider and allow the epi pen brought out to the playground.

Posted on: Fri, 10/31/2003 - 4:23am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Karen, do you know why the parents don't want their children carrying it? My friend didn't want her son to carry it because she was afraid there would be an accident in the playground. As soon as she found out about the e-belt should bought him one, and felt much better that he could carry his epi-pen safely himself.
If you know the parents you could try to ask them? Or offer the information to the school. (If you have an e-belt you could even show it to the kids themselves, in a conversation about allergies - when I showed one of the kids in my lunch room my medic-alert she told her mom about it, and she came to see me - she thought they were only for allergies to medicine.)
However, keep in mind everybody does have different safety zones. There are people on this board who chose not to have their children carry their own epi-pens, and with all the info available here we need to accept and respect their choices for their children.

Posted on: Fri, 10/31/2003 - 2:31pm
KarenH's picture
Joined: 09/21/2002 - 09:00

I totally respect people's comfort zones, and if I was NOT the first aid person at the school, I wouldn't really think too much about it. But being the first aid person and having that responsibility, PLUS having PA myself and knowing what I know, it makes me uncomfortable.
I am not a teacher or a person of any authority at the school. It doesn't matter if I am uncomfortable, the people higher up didn't even want me saying anything to the boy. They said that both kids "manage their allergy" very well. I get the impression that the parents don't want the child singled out and is having the child take responsibility for keeping themselves safe.
To me, this is fine BUT we should have a plan in place for the worst case senario. "Oh, this kid's reactions don't progress that fast" I was told. Sure, I replied-my step daughter didn't even know she was allergic to peanuts until she collapsed in full blown anaphylaxis after eating some, and woke up in an ambulance.
My main concern is simply to keep the kids safe. I can't really push anything through, but I can maybe help raise awareness a little more.

Posted on: Sun, 11/02/2003 - 1:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Karen, are you an actual employee at the school, or a *paid volunteer*? (lunchroom supervision at my son's school is considered volunteer work, but they pay a small amount per hour)
And, do you have first aid/CPR training?
I know this doesn't help answer your question (sorry about that), but as a parent I would be very concerned if the first aid person was a volunteer, and not properly trained. And, I'd be terrified to be that person.

Posted on: Sun, 11/02/2003 - 2:41am
KarenH's picture
Joined: 09/21/2002 - 09:00

I am an employee
I am first aid/CPR trained.
I have worked with kids that have life threatening seizures and stop breathing. [img][/img]
...AND I'm PA.
I think the kid would be in good hands, but for my own piece of mind I would like there to be protoccol and to know that if there IS a problem, I can get an epi-and FAST.
(forgot to add that I'm a certified rescue diver-not the kind that goes in and frees people that are trapped underwater, but I've had training for scuba diving emergencies)

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