MARTINSVILLE — Kristen Brown is the kind of mother who’s always prepared and for her 11-year-old daughter Kylie that preparation could mean life or death.
“We always keep (EpiPens) in our medicine cabinet at all times,” Brown said.
Kylie is allergic to peanuts. EpiPens are a way of life for her and the many families with severe food allergies. The pens, filled with epinephrine, can stop a reaction long enough to get you to the hospital.
Last year, Kylie was in the middle of a performance at a dance competition when she went into shock.
“She ran off the side of the stage and I heard her saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,'” Brown said.
Brown used Kylie’s EpiPen and got her to the hospital in time.
Until now, those EpiPens have had to stay with Kylie at every moment, even at school.
“She carries a pouch every day and it has her EpiPen in it. She actually carries two (at a time),” Brown said.
A bill moving through the Statehouse would change that. It would let health care providers prescribe EpiPens directly to school districts, so that the school could keep some in stock.
The bill would also give school employees both training and immunity from lawsuits to use the pens.
Bill author Sen. Vaneta Becker sees the biggest benefit being to kids who might not know they have severe allergies to food or bee stings.
“There are an awful lot of parents that may not know that their child has an allergic reaction to food until they’re actually in school,” Becker said.
Brown showed Fox 59 a new device that could make administering epinephrine even easier, too. It’s called Auvi-Q and gives spoken instructions as it works.
The device – and the bill – are the latest in a trend to bring more attention to kids with severe allergies. The numbers nationwide are going up, meaning more kids like Kylie will need the people around them to know what to do in an emergency.
“Just in her classroom there (are) two kids with anaphylactic reactions to peanuts,” Brown said.