Implementation details and funding for the Stock Epinephrine Auto-Injector Pilot Project (SEAPP) were approved yesterday by the City of Hamilton’s board of health. Today, City Council is expected to ratify the pilot project which will place emergency epinephrine (EpiPens) in the Jackson Square Mall and Eastgate Mall food courts by June of 2014. I commend Councillor Lloyd Ferguson for piloting this initiative and the Ancaster Ontario Rotarians who voiced their concerns about enhancing the safety of their allergic grandchildren following the death of 12 year old Maia Santarelli-Gallo due to an allergic reaction at a Burlington Ontario food court in March of 2013.
The CBC first covered this story in June of 2013 when the initiative was first proposed, and the issue of liability was discussed then. Bernard Dickens, a retired professor of health law and policy at the University of Toronto stated that the average person is legally protected if he or she jumps in with an EpiPen to save the life of someone who is suffering a potentially lethal allergic reaction. Much like defibrillators in sports arenas, EpiPens exist to save lives — not to create unnecessary legal woes. Professor Dickens further explained that the law encourages rescue in that situation by protecting the rescuer and that the EpiPen seems to fall into the same place.
Hamilton City Council directed the city’s lawyers to look into any liability issues that might arise when using an auto-injector on someone who then is injured or dies. Professor Dickens stated that the city doesn’t have anything to worry about as “peril invites rescue, and the perception of you being in peril is all it takes.” Despite this, it has taken 9 months for this initiative to move forward.
Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/hamilton-moves-to-make-epipens-available-in-eateries-1.2187627 Accessed 23 April 2014
Hamilton’s public health officials will lead the one-year pilot project.The city of Hamilton will spend $82,000 from the city’s tax stabilization reserve on the project, and a portion of the funds will be paid to train security personnel to recognize and respond to a severe allergic reaction.
There is no reason to limit the training to security personnel: All employees that work at the restaurants in the food court should also be trained. The purpose of this initiative is to make epinephrine immediately available to a person having an allergic reaction. Do we really want to wait for mall security to arrive? Will they get there before paramedics?
Group training on how to recognize and respond to a severe allergic emergency is affordable and readily available online at EpiPenTraining.com, which is the most current and complete curriculum in allergy first aid. The course takes one hour to complete and there is an entire module on Legal Consequences which would be of particular interest for the pilot project, and pricing is very affordable.
The rest of the funding will go to McMaster University, which will use the pilot as part of a study to test elements such as usage and consumer confidence. It was reported that McMaster is still deciding how much legal responsibility it wants to carry. Are we not yet finished with that issue? I truly hope so, because what I’m wondering is how many allergic emergencies have happened in Hamilton area food courts in the 9 months since this project was first proposed. Did those victims have access to their own epinephrine or did they struggle like Maia did as they waited for emergency crews to arrive?
Please, let’s move forward with this initiative quickly and efficiently. Let’s not make this about money ($82,000 seems extremely excessive to me for a one year pilot project), and let’s not rehash the topic of liability when expert opinions have already been obtained. Let’s set an example that other municipalities in Canada and the USA can enthusiastically follow and show that the safety of allergic citizens comes first.
Sources: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/hamilton-epipen-project-to-launch-in-local-food-courts-in-june-1.2618134 and http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4478288-auto-injectors-will-be-given-to-mall-guards/Accessed 23 April 2014
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