Yesterday, I was interviewed live on FoxNews CT regarding this topic. For years, I, and several other parents including Erin Spaulding and Robin Comey, have been advocating for better, more consistent policies regarding food allergies in our school district. Last year, Erin, the VP of FAEN, pulled the issue of bus driver training to the forefront after a dangerous situation had occurred on the bus her children were riding on. This received media attention and led to this public debate.
So, here is the question: Should bus drivers be trained to administer epinephrine? If not, who should be responsible for the safety of children with food allergies and other medical conditions while they ride the bus?
According to Timothy Stokes, a spokesperson for First Student, Inc., the policy for First Student is the following: “In the event of an emergency, bus drivers are trained to pull the bus over in a secure location and radio dispatch for assistance.”
This policy should be worrisome to every parent. What if a child were to choke on the bus? Would the bus driver simply stand by and watch while waiting for EMS to arrive? Erin states in her interview that her “daughter’s throats closes within 5 minutes of ingestion.” Which means that by the time EMS arrives, it may be too late. In the case of my daughter, her past reactions have occurred so quickly that she would have even less time. We find this current policy to be unacceptable.
I received this tweet last night: “Just as everyone should know First Aid and CPR everyone should know how to use Epipen especially anyone involved in childcare, ” and I agree. As any teacher, parent, or bus driver can attest, accidents can happen at any time. I think that we, as adults, owe it to our children to be prepared at all times to respond. Frankly, if I were a teacher, a bus driver, or a paraprofessional, I would want to have that training provided for me. No one wants to witness the death of a child and know they could have done something to prevent it…no one. In the case of anaphylaxis, most deaths are preventable if epinephrine is administered immediately.
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View Erin’s story HERE:
View my live interview HERE.
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Gina Mennett Lee, M.Ed.
President, Food Allergy Education Network