Monday, July 23, 2012

Thanks Sen. Hatch! Now on to Rep. Matheson!

by Kelley Lindberg


Last week, I wrote about UFAN’s efforts to encourage Senator Orrin Hatch to co-sponsor Senate bill 1884, “The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.” This bill would encourage states to ensure that epinephrine is available in schools and that school personnel are trained to administer it in an emergency.

You did it! Enough of us called Senator Hatch that his staff realized how important this legislation is to Utah families. His staff met with FAAN executives last week, then recommended to Sen. Hatch that he support the bill. And guess what? He has now decided to co-sponsor S. 1884! That is great news!

It’s incredible to watch our political system in action, and see that our individual efforts really do make a difference!

So this week, we are trying to get U.S. Representative Jim Matheson to support and co-sponsor the HR version of the bill. In the House of Representatives, the bill is called HR 3627. Almost 80 U.S. Representatives, both Republican and Democrat, have signed on as co-sponsors, so we need to make sure Rep. Matheson signs on to support Utah families.

The person to contact in Rep. Matheson’s office is Joel Bailey. His email address is:
joel.bailey@mail.house.gov

By phone, he can be reached at:
202-225-3011

So pick up the phone again and make another quick phone call. It’s painless, easy, and life-saving. How often do you get to do something like that?

Here is the email I just sent to Joel Bailey:

Hi,

I am a Utah constituent. I understand you can help Rep. Matheson decide on legislation to co-sponsor.

HR 3627 is life-saving legislation that can help prevent more food allergy tragedies at school, such as the one that took first-grader Amarria Johnson’s life last January in Virginia. This bill would encourage states to ensure that epinephrine is available in schools and that school personnel are trained to administer it in an emergency.

Statistically, food allergies now affect approximately one student in every Utah classroom, and more than 15% of school-aged children with food allergies have had an allergic reaction in school. That’s a lot of Utah kids having reactions at school, despite our best precautions.

The scary part is that allergies can develop at any time, and some students may not even know that they are allergic, so they won’t have epinephrine available. 25% of epinephrine administrations in schools involve individuals with a previously unknown allergy. Those injections usually come from bystanders who happen to have EpiPens with them, or from emergency personnel who arrive on the scene – but because anaphylactic reactions can kill within minutes, emergency personnel may arrive too late, like in Amarria Johnon’s case. Having epinephrine immediately available is crucial.

Anaphylaxis (a severe life-threatening allergic reaction) can also be triggered by venom (such as bee or wasp stings), by medications (such as antibiotics), or even by physical activity in some individuals. So it isn’t just food-allergic children who may be helped by this law. Fast access to epinephrine injectors can mean the difference between a close call and tragedy in all of these cases.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that epinephrine injectors should be part of the emergency medical kit kept in all schools, and that school staff should be trained in its administration.

Those of us affected by food allergies hope that you will agree that having epinephrine injectors in schools is an important step to saving the lives of our children.  Almost 80 Republican and Democrat Representatives have already signed on to co-sponsor HR 3627. Please encourage Rep. Matheson to strongly support and co-sponsor HR 3627.

Sincerely,
Kelley Lindberg
Mother of a 13-year-old Utah public school student allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts

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