School emergency allergy protocol gets international attention

By: Jenn Schanz

School cafeterias are a dangerous place for some students.

Those with certain allergies face life-threatening anaphylaxis if they come in contact with the wrong foods.

The only way yo reverse the symptoms is with epinephrine, the most common brand being the EpiPen, which Nebraska schools are required to carry.

After two students in Omaha died from symptoms related to anaphylaxis in the late 1990's, the state took action.

“Probably the most prevalent food allergy we're seeing and one of the most severe is anything with peanuts and tree nuts,” says Andrea Holka of Attack on Asthma Nebraska, a non profit that helped implement rule 59, which requires schools to be prepared to respond to anaphylaxis emergencies by carrying and knowing how to use epinephrine.

Holka was contacted by a Japanese news crew after a little girl in Japan died from an allergy attack in school.

The crew is now visiting Norris Elementary in Firth, Nebr. to see how the state's schools are implementing allergy–safe zones, and hoping to learn from a tragedy.

“I feel certain that he's safe here, knowing that I have an EpiPen and the nurse has EpiPens and everyone's been trained.”

Kara Savage works at Norris Elementary, and also has a son with a severe peanut allergy.

“I think it's important, it's going to save someone's life. Save a child's life. We have to be advocates for the kids, they can't do it, we can tell them to ask and that sort of thing but accidents are going to  happen, they're children. So we need to know how to deal with the situation.”