RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – In the wake of the recent death of Chesterfield first grader, parents of children with food allergies are calling on state lawmakers for changes that would require Epi-pens be mandated in schools for emergency allergic reactions.
Parents claim only those closest to the issue can understand the importance of such protections.
“I try to teach him how to be safe, how my kids can be safe but also let them be kids,” said Tiffany Ferreira,mother of a four-year-old with several food allergies.
Ferreira recalled Charlie’s first severe allergic reaction; she’s been packing his food everywhere he goes since then. Charlie’s memory of the ambulance ride keeps him from eating anything else.
“They gave me the shots it made me cry because it hurted,” said the four-year-old.
Last week Ferreira heard about an outcome far worse, that of seven-year-old Ammaria Johnson, who died at her Chesterfield school after an allergic reaction to a peanut.
“It didn’t have to happen–with preparation and medication in place she would be here today,” said Ferreira.
As a direct result of Johnson’s case some Virginia lawmakers are drafting emergency legislation.
“Get Epi-pens into school as quickly as possible,” said Del. John O’Bannon (Rep.) Henrico.
The bill would require that Virginia schools have the injections of epinephrine on campus in case of an emergency. If the bill passed, it would become law immediately.
“I think parents who have seen their kid’s reaction clearly understand how important this is,” said O’Bannon.
And several lawmakers said, like Ferreira, they too understand.
“This is a matter of safety and life and death in many cases,” said Del. Peter Farrell (Rep.) Henrico.
“We look forward to working with legislators on this very important policy initiative,” said Shawn Smith, spokesman for Chesterfield Schools.
“Over the last week we have already seen more school families come forward to now provide health emergency plans and medication for their child.”
“It is our sincere hope this community awareness will continue,” said Smith.
The bill is expected to be formally filed in the next week, said lawmakers.
In addition, questions of school liability may be covered by making the legislation a Good Samaritan law–meaning that if the person administering the aide did so in good faith during an emergency, they will not be held liable.