TRENTON – The Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would expand the list of those individuals authorized to administer emergency epinephrine at a school to include more school personnel and the allergic students themselves.
“An allergic reaction can go from manageable to disastrous in a matter of minutes, and timely administration of epinephrine can be the difference between life and death,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer and Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Children who face the threat of anaphylactic shock every day are more likely than not trained in how to use an ‘epi-pen’ when necessary. It makes no sense to stop them from doing so while in school.”
Senator Turner’s bill, S-79, would clarify the current state law governing the administration of epinephrine to treat severe allergic reactions. The bill includes a provision that would require school nurses to recruit and train adult faculty to serve as designees to administer emergency epinephrine to students should the school nurse be unavailable. Additionally in the absence of the school nurse or designee, students would be permitted to self administer the epinephrine.
“We should do everything possible to train as many school personnel as possible on how to properly reaction to medical emergencies like severe allergies,” added Senator Turner. “Good training can help staff to act quickly and calmly to help the student and minimize the danger of the allergic reaction.”
The bill also requires that epinephrine be available in a secure, unlocked and easily accessible location. The epinephrine used to counter allergic reactions are contained in devices commonly known as “epi-pens”, auto-injectors used to quickly administer the drug to a person suffering from Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction caused by contact with certain foods, including shellfish and nut products, latex and certain medications.
The bill would also require that students be transported to a hospital emergency room after having the pen administered. The Department of Education would be required to work with physicians to establish guidelines outlining procedures to reduce the potential for students being exposed to allergens.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 39-0. It now goes to the Assembly for their consideration.