Monday, November 7, 2011

EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Visit

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Recently, the DEA had a "Got Drugs?" event, where you could turn in your expired/unused medications. I took some old medications and my expired EpiPens, but they said they couldn't accept any "sharps". They suggested that I go to the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) office, during regular business hours.

I thought that would be a good opportunity to meet the staff and ask some questions. I spoke to the receptionist and told her that I wanted to turn in some expired EpiPens and that I had some questions and she called one of the emergency medical staff members.  (I'm guessing he was an EMT, but I am not familiar with the designations and qualifications, so please forgive me if I am wrong about that.)

Here's a "transcript"...I have paraphrased, of course, because it was just an informal "interview":

Me: Hello, I have a 3-year-old daughter with severe food allergies to peanuts, milk and eggs.  Do you carry epinephrine in your ambulances?

EMT: Yes, we do.  We have training on the use of epinephrine and EpiPens, for allergic reactions.  We are very much on top of that kind of thing.

Me:  That's great!  What about the other departments...Fire, they know about allergic reactions/epinephrine, etc.?

EMT:  The Fire Department is also trained, as they are First Responders.*  They often come here for training and, as a matter of fact, they are here, today, for a training class.

Me: What about the Police Department?  When I showed the officer my EpiPen [when I tried to offer it for disposal], he didn't know what it was...

EMT: No, they are not trained on EpiPens, so they probably wouldn't know about them, unless they, or someone they knew, had food allergies.  They are trained on CPR, but if something were to occur, they would contact us.

Me: Are you allowed to administer our personal EpiPens, if for some reason we were unable?

EMT: We have our own, but if for some reason that was unavailable, or you were unable to administer your own, or your child was with a babysitter, we could definitely use your EpiPen.  The medicine we have is the same, it's just in a different delivery form, so it could be done either way.

Me: Thank you so much for your time!

*I found this on their website, about "First Responders":

First Responders

We are fortunate to have eight of the most talented and professional Fire Departments that provide first response in our EMS System. The First Responders are critical to the success of our system, as they respond ahead of the ambulance and actually begin treatment and stabilization prior to the ambulance arriving on scene. In a time critical emergency, this can truly be the difference between life and death.
I guess never realized that they arrived ahead of the ambulance, so it's good to know that they are also trained on the use of epinephrine.

I hope I never need their services, but they were very friendly!  I think, if you the opportunity, you should stop by your local EMS/Fire Department and get to know some of the people who might help saves your child's life one day.  Each place can have different rules/policies/laws, so you should ask your own questions, to see what the situation is for your particular service providers.

Edited to add: Thanks to Allergic Child for asking the question and a reader for answering it, here is a link to a map showing the various Epinephrine Policies by state.  I did not realize that some states do not allow certain levels of EMT to carry epinephrine, but will inject a patient's own autoinjector, etc.  Again, always check the rules for your particular area.

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