A life-saving step forward

A new state law could help save the lives of students in Milford and elsewhere in Connecticut.The law allows trained school employees to administer the life-saving treatment epipenphrine (commonly known as “EpiPens”) for emergency first aid to students who may experience a severe allergic reaction and were not previously known to have serious allergies.A ceremonial bill signing with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other officials recently took place at a Fairfield County high school.

“Many students suffer from severe allergies, and it can be difficult for families — particularly those of limited resources — to know the severity of a student’s allergies before an attack occurs,” Malloy said.“It is common sense public policy to ensure that any student suffering a life-threatening allergic reaction at school can receive emergency first aid,” he said.

The legislation requires schools to designate and train qualified school employees to administer emergency epinephrine in cartridge injectors to any student having a first time allergic reaction when the school nurse is absent or unavailable.

It further requires the state Board of Education to adopt regulations concerning the conditions and procedures for the storage and administration of epinephrine by school personnel.

The new law, officially known as An Act Concerning the Storage and Administration of Epinephrine at Public Schools, took effect July 1.

Previously, Connecticut laws made provisions for the administration of medication in schools by unlicensed personnel to only students who had prior written authorization.

The legislation also requires the state departments of Education and Public Health to jointly develop, in consultation with the School Nurse Advisory Council, an annual training program regarding emergency first aid to students who experience allergic reactions by December 2014.

“An EpiPen is a life-saving device that should be available to any student in need of emergency first aid for a life-threatening allergic reaction,” said Stefan Pryor, state education commissioner.

Pryor said parents and students now can be assured that teachers and other qualified school personnel as well as school nurses “will have the training and legal authority necessary to act in a medical emergency."

The law will make a difference.