Epipen at school. How you can help?

Epipen devices have been in the news headlines recently for all the wrong reasons, but there are easy steps you can take if you have a pupil with an Epipen. Luckily you’re not expected to be a paramedic or doctor, just take some simple, common sense actions.

Epipens in the news

Last year the manufacturers of Epipens were heavily criticised in the USA for price increases far above the normal price they are sold for in Britain, and over here in the UK the tragic death of a boy, whose school teachers did not use his Epipen, was widely reported.

How Epipens help people

But let’s not ignore the fact that Epipens and similar devices have made a massive improvement to the health and lifestyle options of people with serious allergic reactions. People are free to go to school, college, work, to travel abroad and get involved with social events like weddings and parties without fearing that their lives are at risk.

Epipen at school ? You can help

What is an Epipen ?

It’s a simple device to give an injection of adrenaline to somebody suffering from a very severe allergic reaction. It’s official description is an “epinephrine autoinjector”. Basically, it’s a pen-sized lightweight plastic gadget which can save a life. An adult or child with an allergy can carry one around with them ready for use in case they accidently come into contact with something they are allergic to, for example. nuts, milk, eggs etc. Epipens can be kept at school, at home, in pockets, sports bags and school satchels.

How you can help

If you’ve got a pupil with a severe allergy at school and they use an Epipen (usually only available on prescription), there are several things you can do to help them and ensure that you are acting responsibly.
First make sure you know which pupil or pupils have severe allergies. This information should be written up in their personal Care Plans, available to all school staff. Have a careful read through and make sure you understand – remember you can always clarify items with your colleagues, the school welfare officer or the pupil’s parents. Many pupils are themselves a great source of information too, so don’t forget to include them, have a chat or even speak to them at the same time you are speaking with their parents.

Next get physical, have a look at the Epipen itself, making sure you are fully aware of where it is stored, how to get to it and how to open the storage.

After you know this get involved with training, either on a dedicated first aid course or though your school medical service or even the pupil’s own health care provider. Nothing beats the hands-on experience of proper training.

By carrying out your familiarisation, checking the Epipen location and getting trained you’ll be helping your pupil, ensuring that you’re taking proper steps to be prepared and also making sure you know exactly what to do.

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