RENO, Nev. The severity of food allergies, especially among school age children has skyrocketed the past few years, enough to spur the Nevada legislature to mandate every school in the state stocks epinephrine pens, also known as EpiPens.
The WCSD has always had a policy addressing emergency responses to students with known anaphylaxis, including training of school personnel by school nurses in the administration of EpiPen.
But school health officials are in the process of writing an addendum to this policy to include the mandates of SB 453.
"What’s different is that the new law allows school personnel, who are trained by the school nurse, to administer the EpiPen in the event that a student with no known diagnosis exhibits symptoms of anaphylaxis," Dana Balchunas, direct of Student Health Services for the Washoe County School District said.
But it's going to take some time for the mandate to be fully enacted. school health officials have to approve protocol procedures and staff members need to be trained by nurses to use the EpiPens. Balchunas says they hope the whole process will be finished by October.
A grant will pay for the EpiPens, at least for the first year. Each school will eventually get them in two dosages, to accommodate students who weigh less than 60 pounds, and one for those who weigh more.
But Balchunas says parent's with kids who have severe allergies should still send them to school with the EpiPens prescribed by their doctors.
"These are meant to be a last resort," she said. "The ones your doctor prescribes are specific to your child. This mandate will just ensure that more teachers are trained to administer the drug properly."