Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law this week that offers new protections for students in public schools.
The measure requires public schools to have EpiPens available for any child who has a severe allergic reaction. It says schools in Michigan must have two pens and two staff members trained to use them beginning with the 2014 school year.
Medical officials said students with allergies can die of anaphylactic shock if not treated in time.
Erika Keiswetter of Petoskey has two children with life-threatening allergies. She said her children are prepared for emergencies, but other children may not be.
“We already have epinephrine on the school premises for them, but if another children who hadn’t previously had an allergy had a first reaction to peanuts for example, or dairy or any of the other major allergens that are popping up, then the nurse or whoever is training the school can properly treat that child,” she said.
Keiswetter said requiring Epi Pens is a logical move for schools.
“It’s just like having a defibrillator, quite honestly,” she said. “Defibrillators are required throughout all public buildings in the state of Michigan in case someone were to go into cardiac arrest. Why not have the EpiPen? It’s basically there to have on-hand as a preventative measure in case something tragic were to happen.”
Health professionals say as many as 25% of kids with allergies have their first allergic reaction at school.
Keiswetter said having an EpiPen at school to use on students or staff can buy time for the person to get to a hospital for further treatment.