On Tuesday May 7, several Chappaqua families headed up to the New York State Capitol to convince legislators to pass Assembly Bill 759-A (“same as” Senate Bill 4876) this session. The Bill would require all NY State Teachers have instruction on how to administer an epinephrine auto-injector.
Two years ago, Stacey Saiontz set out to try to make this simple but important Bill a reality. As the mother of a young son with life-threatening allergies to dairy, egg, wheat, oat, rye, barley, tree nuts and sesame, Stacey never leaves her son with an adult or babysitter who doesn’t understand how to administer an epinephrine auto-injector. This is because if a child is experiencing anaphylaxis, their throat can close within seconds to minutes, often not enough time for 911 assistance. Prompt administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) is pertinent to treating anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction that is rapid in onset and could cause death. Research clearly shows that fatalities due to anaphylaxis result from a failure to administer epinephrine, or a delay in its use.
In NY State teachers, who we entrust our children with for the majority of our waking hours, are not required to be trained in administering this life saving medication. This bill will require that all newly certified teachers receive instruction in the use of epinephrine auto-injectors. This life-saving medication can be used in the event of a severe allergic reaction at school. The Bill does not cost the state any money as teachers may receive instruction from any of the many “free” online courses that will train teachers, and/or be trained by the nurse at the school. In fact, in Ontario, Canada, a similar law was passed in 2006. Under Sabrina’s Law (a law named after a girl who lost her life from anaphylaxis in school when she could not get her epinephrine in time), teachers have been trained by a free online course at allergyready.com since 2006.
Since 2006, not one child has died in an Ontario school. However, there have been several instances where a child has experienced anaphylaxis and their teachers have saved their lives by administering the epinephrine auto-injector. This Bill in NY state will empower teachers in their classroom at a time when 1 in 13 children have life-threatening food allergies. Allergists support this important Bill and emphasize that there are no counter-indications to administering epinephrine. Furthermore, the bill provides liability protection to teachers under the Good Samaritan law.
On May 7, Patty Albert and her food allergic daughter Sara, Heather Brown and her food allergic son Spencer, and Liz Rappaport and Stacey Saiontz spent the day in Albany pushing this Bill one step closer to a reality.
They attended and spoke at Press conference that Assembly Member Rosenthal and Senator Golden (the sponsors of the Bill) held. Afterwards, they met with key members of Assembly and the Senate to ensure that those Legislators would vote “yes” for the Bill.