A state lawmaker will introduce a bill today to help protect kids from dangerous allergies at school. It's a follow up to a "What's Bugging You" segment News 10 did this year on EpiPens. Parents pushed for the life-saving allergy treatments to be required in all schools, and that could become a reality if the bill is passed.
Both Jaime Lewis' son and daughter have severe allergies, so Lewis makes sure she carries an EpiPen at all times.
"It's just the unknowing that's the scary part," said Lewis. "That you don't know what you're looking for, don't know if it's a rash, you don't know what your child is going to be allergic to."
But Lewis says she's at least glad to know her kids have allergies, because other parents aren't so lucky. In almost 25 percent of cases of anaphylaxis, severe allergic reactions that can be fatal, parents never even knew their child had allergies. That's why State Represenative Lisa Posthumus Lyons is introducing a bill to require all schools stock at least two EpiPens.
"I thought it was really important to address that unknown," said Rep. Lyons, who has four children. "As a conservative, it's important to me that people takes responsibility for their own health issues, but when a parent or a child doesn't know they may have this type of reaction, it's also important that the right type of care be available in an instant, because minutes matter with allergic reactions."
The legislation would ensure at least two staff members at each school be trained to use the EpiPens.
"A five year old can do it," said Rep. Lyons. "We're not asking for huge training."
It's a simple procedure schools could put in place to give parents peace of mind, and to help save lives. Lewis doesn't see a downside.
"I think it's incredible," said said. "I think there are so many children who don't have established allergies but can develop allergies."
Rep. Lyons acknowledges critics may be concerned because this legislation is essentially an unfunded mandate. However, she says it costs about $100 for two EpiPens, and the benefits outweigh the expense if a child's life is in danger. Rep. Lyons also says there is a grant program schools can take advantage of to help offset the costs.
She plans to introduce the bills to the house today. From there, the legislation will head to the House Education Committee for review.