Local schools working to save lives by increasing EpiPen access

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News 12 This Morning/Friday Nov. 15, 2013

(WRDW)--President Obama signed a law Wednesday aimed at helping increase schools access to epinephrine, the medicine that treats severe allergic reactions.

It gives financial incentives to states that require all schools have EpiPen auto injectors for emergency use.

But, both Georgia and South Carolina have already been one step ahead.

A state law was signed last summer allowing access in all South Carolina schools for emergency use.

And Dr. Carol Rountree with Richmond County schools says a similar law is in place in Georgia.

"To make them available not just to a specific student who has an identified allergy," she said. "Georgia is one of the states that went one step further and they expect schools to stock the EpiPen for a crisis."

About 25 percent of students have their very first allergic reaction at school, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services--Part of the reason why so many states have already started thinking about EpiPens in school for emergency use."

"We will have trained personnel in the building who can act in case there's an emergency where a child has a reaction," said Rountree.

A pack of two regular doses costs $342. Rountree tells me the district's first step was finding the money to put an EpiPen in all 59 schools in the county.

"They are expensive," she said. "And in a system that's already strapped for funds, we needed to find a way to fund those."

Through an outside program the district received funds to stock schools for now, but Rountree says the federal act's financial incentives could possibly help them in the future.

"It's a medicine that has an expiration date. So the supply we have now is going to have to be replenished," she said.

The main difference between state laws on epinephrine access in schools and the new federal law is that the federal law would require schools to stock the medicine while the state laws only allow and encourage schools.

Richmond County is in the process of rolling out this initiative. Officials tell me by Christmas break, all schools in the county will be stocked and personnel trained.

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