Proposed bill could put EpiPens in every school

A proposed bill could make it mandatory for all Michigan schools to have EpiPens on campus.

Michigan lawmakers are looking to make it mandatory for schools to have two EpiPens on their campus. Schools would also have to have two staff members who know how to administer the EpiPens.

The proposal was discussed Wednesday in Lansing.

Some Northern Michigan schools already have extra EpiPens on campus. Raph Rittenhouse, Principal of Suttons Bay High School, said their school district has had emergency EpiPens on campus for at least seven years.

Rittenhouse said he understands the importance of EpiPens in cases of allergic reactions to certain foods and bee stings. He personally had two cases where he had to inject an EpiPen for a student.

"In one case we had a student who had it for bee stings and had to administer it for a food allergy, which sounds crazy, but it worked out that way," said Rittenhouse.

Dr. James McClellan of Bayside Allergy in Traverse City said it is important for students with severe food or bee allergies to keep EpiPens with them, especially at school.

He said Anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death, can happen in a matter of moments.

"Patients will usually note symptoms in their mouth, their throat and their tongue while the food is still in their mouth, so it could occur within seconds," said Dr. McClellan.

Rittenhouse said many staff members are trained each year on how to administer the EpiPens to provide immediate care to a student who has an allergic reaction.

"If you have to have somebody come and transport you to a critical care center that's a long time to have to wait to get relief and so this is a much better way of helping kids and families," said Rittenhouse.

Dr. McClellan said severe allergic reactions happen enough for it to be necessary for schools to keep EpiPens on campus for emergencies.

"Probably less than a dozen a year in this country of deaths, but as far as reactions requiring emergency medical care, ambulance rides, emergency room visits, hospital stays, the numbers are in the hundreds," said McClellan.

Besides food allergies and bee stings, common causes of Anaphylaxis include allergic reactions to medications, latex and even exercise.