DeKalb County Schools and traveling athletic teams at DCHS will soon have access to EpiPen kits, which can be used to treat a student in the event of an allergic reaction.
The Board of Education Thursday night voted to accept the kits as a donation from the Cookeville Regional Charitable Foundation at no cost to the school system. Others will be obtained free of charge through EpiPen4Schools.
John Bell, Director of the Foundation addressed the school board along with Dr. Charles Womack of Cookeville Regional Medical Center. “We are working on a project in partnership with Dr. Womack and a few other physicians at the hospital to provide EpiPens to Putnam County and all the surrounding counties. There is a program called EpiPen4Schools which is a national company that provides free EpiPen kits for any public school in the nation. The first component of this project is to make sure everyone is aware that you can order these kits free of charge annually for all of your schools. We are happy to help you walk through that process and Dr. Womack has offered to write prescriptions that are necessary in order to receive those free kits,” said Bell.
“As a secondary part of the same project, through donations to the charitable foundation we are able to fund additional kits for traveling sports teams in high schools. We have provided kits to all of the Putnam County High Schools for their sports teams and at White County and we are hoping that you will come on board as well,” Bell added.
Each EpiPen kit contains two epinephrine auto injectors and a training DVD. Training will be administered to coaches and appropriate high school staff in cooperation with the coordinated school health program.
“The legislature passed a law in 2013 authorizing school personnel to use the EpiPen kits in an emergency with liability immunity,” said Dr. Womack.
Epinephrine is a synthetic version of adrenaline. It constricts blood vessels to increase blood pressure, relaxes smooth muscles in the lungs to reduce wheezing and improve breathing, stimulates the heart (increases heart rate) and works to reduce hives and swelling that may occur around the face and lips. According to national food allergy guidelines, epinephrine is the only recommended first line of treatment for anaphylaxis.
Having EpiPens on hand could literally save lives according to Dr. Womack. “If someone gets stung by a wasp or has a reaction playing baseball, football, or soccer you have the kit and the trainer. You can pass the EpiPen set from football to baseball to basketball. You don’t need to have one for each team. You can have two or three sets,” said Dr. Womack.
“It can be the difference between life and death. If you have a peanut allergy or get stung by a bee or wasp, it can be just a matter of minutes before you are in a life threatening crisis. The EpiPen automatically gives three tenths of a cc to an adult. There is a pediatric set for children under 66 pounds and an adult set with two pens per pack for children over 66 pounds,” he continued.
“The EpiPen kit costs about $400. It's quite expensive. But if you purchase it through the school program you can buy them for just over $100. We have raised money to buy kits for the sports teams and we’ll do this annually as long as we’ve got the money,” said Dr. Womack.
It is estimated that one in every 13 children has an allergy that can lead to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction. Allergies often do not become apparent until children reach puberty.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that allergic reactions result in more than 300,000 ambulatory-care visits each year among children under the age of 18.
The EpiPen4Schools® program, offered by Mylan Specialty, the marketer and distributor of EpiPen® (epinephrine injection) and EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection) Auto-Injectors, was developed to help improve access to epinephrine in the event a person experiences a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in the school setting.
In the event that the free supply is used to respond to an allergic emergency (anaphylactic event), qualifying schools are eligible to receive a replenishment order of EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® Auto-Injectors prior to their annual eligibility date at no additional cost.