Va. lawmakers want restaurants to stock emergency epinephrine

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Virginia lawmakers are working on a bill that would require restaurants to keep epinephrine injectors on hand.

Delegate John O'Bannon, the key sponsor for House Bill 352, said if the measure is approved in the General Assembly, training for restaurant workers would be required  so workers would be able to administer the medicine if needed.

News of the bill comforts Kia Symonds, who suffered a near fatal allergic reaction while dining out at an area restaurant a few years ago.

"I felt like I couldn't breathe. My tongue swelled up, my throat was closing up. I had welts on my cheek area and my lips were swelling," Symonds explained.  "It was so scary. I thought about my kids."

Symonds said after workers called 911, emergency crews injected her with epinephrine and she started to feel better.

Symonds experience is the types of scenario O'Bannon is hoping to address.

Symonds hopes her story will resonate with lawmakers and that the measure will gain bipartisan support. She believes the bill will save lives.



  • Pam

    Emergency crews were called and she was saved…..that’s how it’s supposed to happen. She lived. No epi-pen on hand in the restaurant and she managed to survive with the help of the emt’s that were called. How about keeping cardiac defibrillators and other medical supplies on hand too? Heck, let’s just make every restaurant a mini emergency room. A person with severe allergies should be required to carry their own epi-pen to save their lives. That way they would be safer everywhere they go.

    • Sky

      You need to fact check before you start arguing for/against things you don’t understand. Not everyone who requires an epi has even ever had an allergic reaction. A lot of people develop allergic reactions later in life and don’t even realize it until they have an attack. What if they do know that they are allergic, but require more than one epi to save their life, but don’t happen to carry a surplus with them every time they go out to eat? Oh man, that’s just too bad. I guess they’ll just have to die or wait in agony until the rescue squad gets there. This is a good thing, and clearly this a service that is needed, or they wouldn’t put the time, money, and energy into this. What’s your deal, do you hate people with allergies or something?

      • Bill

        People who know they have food allergies:

        1. More than likely suffered an allergic reaction in the past. That’s how they found out they were allergic
        2. They did not have an epinephrine injectors on hand for their first reaction nor was their one in any restaurant
        3. Emergency services were required
        4. They survived
        5. They now carry their own epinephrine injectors

        People who DON’T yet know they have food allergies:

        1. Start at step 3 when they have an allergic reaction.

        You can’t always stop death, it happens. People die from choking in restaurants more often than they do from allergic reactions. Should the restaurant cut up the food for everyone into small bits?

    • T.M.

      Sad when people think like you do. My sister in law is dead because the place she always ate at changed to peanut oil and never told anyone. She did carry Epi-Pens but it happened so fast that she died. I developed severe food allergies late in life (Alpha-Gal). I have had several episodes of anaphylaxis from cross contamination. I have to depend on the cooks to prepare my food safely, do you know how scary that is? I do carry pens with me but when you go thru 2 pens and only have 2 with you because that’s all you’re allowed to have you pray to God that the EMS will be there very quick. Not everyone lives where the EMS are right around the corner. I think that would be a fantastic idea especially if the makers of Epi-Pens would donate to the restaurants.

  • cindy

    as a person who has food allergies I agree with this. I carry my own but unfortunately I have been out to eat and asked about certain items being in foods and have had managers get ugly with me because they had to find out. Also had waitresses tell me they asked and they did not. I hate to hinder my family from outings because there are so many things I can’t eat. The last episode I had took 4 epi pens the standard prescription would not have helped me. It took the rescue squad forever to get to me because it was a volunteer.

  • Amanda

    I think every restaurant should be made to train their kitchen staff on cross contamination and be able to provide allergy menus. Requiring them stock EPI pens can be very costly and I feel might be a little extreme.

  • Bill

    This has got to be worst idea I’ve ever heard! Have a $3/hour + tip waiter or waitress, who has watched a 20 minute training video on administering epi shots, sticking a needle into someone?? Nurses & EMTs are specifically trained for this for months and months and lawmakers want to leave this in the hands of waiters/waitresses?? No offense to the wait staff reading this, but if I were a waiter I would NOT be comfortable administering shots to people.

      • Bill

        Great! then the person having an allergic reaction can administer their own injection themselves or wait for an EMT to bring one.

  • Bill


    The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) has stated that approximately 200 people die from anaphylaxis each year in the USA from food allergic reactions.

  • Bill

    To make sure epinephrine injection is safe for you, tell your doctor ( OR WAITER OR WAITRESS) if you have:

    •heart disease or high blood pressure;
    •Parkinson’s disease;
    •depression or mental illness;
    •a thyroid disorder; or
    •diabetes (you may need to adjust your dose of insulin or other diabetes medication after using epinephrine injection).

    FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether epinephrine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor (OR WAITER OR WAITRESS) if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

    It is not known whether epinephrine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

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