Before this year, public schools were not required to carry EpiPens, but a new state law is changing that. As of this year all public schools are required have two EpiPens on hand and have at least two staff members in each building trained to use them properly. First thing's first, what is an EpiPen?
"An EpiPen is used to treat severe allergic reactions and reverses those reactions," said Dr. Amy Fletemier, a Family Medicine Physician.
According to Dr. Fletemier, epinephrine, the chemical inside of the EpiPen, works to temporarily increase blood pressure and decrease swelling associated with a severe reaction. Dr. Fletemier also advised that the EpiPen is only used to treat the most severe symptoms of an allergic reaction.
"Low blood pressure and the breathing problems are the biggest concern about the anaphylaxis. People are frequently concerned about the hives and itching. Those are concerning and uncomfortable and can be treated, but the hives aren't going to kill you," said Dr. Fletemier.
Since the new law has taken effect, staff members within each school building need to be trained on how to use the EpiPen properly. The training includes how to spot the severe signs of an allergic reaction as well as the proper way to administer the EpiPen.
"We deal with a lot of kids throughout the school day and year. I also coach so it's good to have that training with the high school kids as well and you can save lives with it. It's very good to be informed on how to use it so if you ever get put in that situation that you can react in the right way," said Ben Olsen, teacher at Sawyer Elementary.
While only two people from each school are required to be trained on how to use an EpiPen, teachers and staff from Gwinn Area Community Schools will all likely receive the training later this year in an effort to react more quickly in an emergency.