Will 911 really help?!

Posted on: Mon, 06/28/1999 - 2:42pm
Momma Kitty's picture
Joined: 04/04/1999 - 09:00

In the "Food Allergy Network" June-July newsletter they reported on the major oversight of some 911 medical services not being allowed to carry or administer the life saving epiniphrine. Apprently the basic EMT's CANNOT.
Tonight airing on "NBC" evening news they reported about a 9 yo girl named Christine, in Washington state, who DIED from an apaphylactic reaction.
Really, 2 tragedies took place... the Mother called 911, she did not have a Epi-Pen... the EMT that arrived to help? was not allowed and did not have epinephrine!!! The girl died!
Two things we need to do... get the laws changed so that all 911 medical help can use life-saving drugs like epinephrine. If teachers, school nurses, and other care givers can administer so should all emergency medical service techs!
The other very difficult lesson but cruical for us all as parents and of the allergic individual always have an Epi-pen with you at all times.
Any thoughts?

Posted on: Mon, 06/28/1999 - 11:38pm
Kathryn's picture
Joined: 02/17/1999 - 09:00

In the area where I live, only paramedics carry adrenaline. To ensure that paramedics are sent in an emergency we have been instructed to tell the 911 operator that "we have a child in anaphylactic shock who needs adrenaline". We were told that if we said that we had an allergic emergency or used other wording that we might not get the help we needed as soon as possible.
When we travel, I call the emergency centre as soon as we arrive, or sometimes before we go, to determine how they like to handle anaphylactic emergencies. At our cottage which is 20 minutes from the nearest hospital and 30 minutes from the ambulance centre we learned that we should administer our epi-pen and transport Troy by car towards the hospital. We will stay in contact with emergency personnel by cell phone and arrange a transfer point along the route where the ambulance can meet us. Other parents in my support group also use this approach and last summer two of them actually had to put their plans into action. In both cases, they administered the epi-pen, headed for the transfer point, put the child in the ambulance where adrenaline was administered and met at the hospital. The children were fine later.
It is my wish that all persons at risk from anaphylaxis would have 2 epi-pens with them always. I have learned of several deaths over the last 3 months that might have been prevented, probably would have been prevented, if epinephrine had been administered promptly. I work with a woman, she sits at the desk next to me, who reacts to eggs and who has had some close calls but who will not discuss anaphylaxis with me and who will not carry an epi-pen. I cannot fathom the resistance to a simple life-saving treatment.
Sorry for going on and on but I read the posts yesterday from young Michelle who doesn't seem to be getting the attention she deserves and I have heard of the deaths of too many children and adults lately.
Take care.

Posted on: Fri, 07/02/1999 - 6:30am
Shan's picture
Joined: 04/05/1999 - 09:00

Just wanted to share what I learned today. My mom talked with a client that is a fireman. My mom was so impressed by him because he seemed more informed about this allergy than anyone else around here we have come across. He told my mom all EMTs in Georgia carry epinephrine. It is one of the requirements by law. He also said they ALWAYS check for a MedicAlert (I was concerned because when I got my dd's in the mail it did not have a red emblem and I was worried they would not notice it.) He said he has had experinece with this allergy while working, too. He knew all about cross contamination and such. Very informed. He also said that (this was being discussed on another thread) they will give epinephrine regardless of a prescription label being on the EpiPen tube or not. They will use their own or the person's depending on the situation, but usually the person has already given it to themselves. (I did go to the pharmacy the other day and had them put the label on the tube instead of the box.) He suggested we call 411 and ask for our county's non-emergency dispatch to registar our address and her grandparents so that it will flash on the screen that we have an anaphylactic to peanuts child in the home. Great ided, but I called 411 and they were useless as always (Sorry if I offend anyone! LOL) and I ended up getting the run around and calling a million different numbers before I found what I needed. Then the guy told me that our county has a new system and it no longer has the capabilites to flag a person's address. BUMMER! And it is a new system? Sounds old to me! He tried to console me by saying all EMTs carry epinephrine in this state, but to remind the dispatcher when we call so they can make sure they have the proper equipment. Well, that doesn't seem as reassuring , now does it? What if the person that is calling is scared and forgets to mention that she is anaphylactic and the EMTs fail to restock? Maybe I'm going out on a whim here, but this new system stinks...Shan

Posted on: Fri, 07/02/1999 - 9:24am
dhumphries's picture
Joined: 02/02/1999 - 09:00

Hi Shan,
I have found something out in my area about emergency medical services. It seems that there are two levels of techs - thos that are licensed as paramendics and those licensed as EMT's. In our Area, the EMT's are allowed to administer epinephrine but the paramedics are not. Therefore, when they are dispatched, if you have an anyphylactic reaction happening, then you need to state this. Otherwise, you may not end up with the EMT who can administer the drug. I guess my biggest concern is - what if the EMT's have all been dispatched and all you can get is the paramedics? Guess that is why it is good for all us to have at least two epi-pens - one to be administered immediately and one for the ambulance ride.
Good luck and Stay Safe

Posted on: Fri, 07/02/1999 - 11:04am
brenda's picture
Joined: 01/22/1999 - 09:00

Did you make a mistake in your post or misunderstand the information you got? Because its the paramedics (true for all states) that can carry and administer epi. Paramedics are higher level trained than EMTs-- 1000 hours verses 100 hours of training. In addition to paramedics, there are 2 levels of EMTs--basic and intermediate, depending on the state some of these EMTs can also carry and administer epi.
Please check your info again, I don't want people to be confused.
[This message has been edited by brenda (edited July 02, 1999).]

Posted on: Fri, 07/02/1999 - 11:41am
Nancy's picture
Joined: 12/06/2002 - 09:00

In New Hampshire, there is a "Automatic Location Information worksheet" form that can be sent to the Bureau of Emergency Communication (i.e. 911) allowing you to add medical information about someone at a specific address into the 911 data base. Then, if a call is received from your address the pertinent information will flash on the dispatcher's screen, allowing the EMTs to know beforehand what sort of situation they are responding to. Sounds great in theory. But, of course, I know the chances of needing to use 911 is much higher AWAY from home, where this information wouldn't be available. Also, I have recently seen a breakdown state by state whether EMTs/paramedics carry and/or are allowed to adminster the patient's own epinephrine. I don't recall exactly where I saw that.
I'd recommend going to the fire station/ambulance dispatch area and introducing yourself and your child.

Posted on: Sat, 07/03/1999 - 4:48am
kbrosn's picture
Joined: 01/28/1999 - 09:00

The breakdown of paramedics/emts was included in my recent FAN mailing

Posted on: Sat, 07/03/1999 - 6:58am
Shan's picture
Joined: 04/05/1999 - 09:00

I spoke to an EMT today while at a fair. (There were peanut shells EVERYWHERE. [img]http://client.ibboards.com/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] ) He did not make me feel too safe, but my mom said I've got to stop all this paranoia. (It is pretty bad I must admit! LOL) His answers about if EVERYONE in Georgia carried epinephrine didn't seem to confident. He said they should. I want to hear YES! Where would I get the EXACT info I'm looking for? I've already called around as you can read from an earlier message on here. And even after talking to him, I'm STILL confused as to what the difference is from an EMT to a paramedic. Is an EMT a fireman? Is a paramedic with the ambulance? And can't they be privately run? Shan
[This message has been edited by Shan (edited July 03, 1999).]

Posted on: Sat, 07/03/1999 - 11:39pm
kbrosn's picture
Joined: 01/28/1999 - 09:00

According to the June/July issue of the FAN newsletter, EMT's in the state of GA breakdown like this
Basic EMT (100 hours of training) does not carry epi, but can assist a patient administer their own epi
Intermediate EMT (400 hours of training) are authorized to carry and administer epi
Paramedics (1000-1200 hours of training) are authorized to carry and administer epi
Again, this came from the FAN newsletter, June/july. The article is titled "Survey of Emergency Medical Services" by Melissa L. Smith
The article recommends you tell the emergency dispatcher of the known food allergy, the person is having anaphylactic symptoms and need an ambulance that carries epi.
Hope this helps...

Posted on: Sun, 07/04/1999 - 3:43am
dhumphries's picture
Joined: 02/02/1999 - 09:00

I got this info from my local EMS services. Either I got confused when writing it down or the lady giving me the info was confused between the EMT and paramedic licensing. Anyway, thanks for clearing this up for me.Stay Safe, Debbie

Posted on: Mon, 06/28/1999 - 10:32pm
SteveW's picture
Joined: 04/08/1999 - 09:00

If this is the same individual then I posted an earlier link on a different thread regarding this. Note that the girl had an EPI Pen and it malfunctioned.
There are legitimate reasons for not allowing EMTs to administer drugs (not that I agree with all of them). EMTs have limited training. If the EMT mistakenly thinks someone having a heart attack/stroke is having an allergic reaction to food, the EPI could kill them. I believe that Washington state now allows EMTs to give EPI to people under 18. Mary Kay's MIL sponsored the bill in Washington State.
Many states do allow EMTs to administer a patients own prescription medication (Maryland certainly can). The physician Director of Maryland's Emergency Medical System stressed that the person calling needs to say this is a food allergy reaction and if an EPI has been administered. Maryland will dispatch paramedics who do carry and can administer EPI. Within Maryland there are several classes of emergency personnel. Each class has different things that they can/cannot do.
This is a link to the transcript of a report (A QUESTION OF LIFE OR DEATH) on the 6/8 Lehrer News Hour.
Lesson: 1) Have more than one Epipen available; 2) Be aware of the limitations of your local emergency services.
The services vary according to jurisdiction. In Maryland, mention that epinephrine has been given and a paramedic will be dispatched. Response times may be greater for rural areas.


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