Local fire department pushes state law change in treating allergic reactions

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NORTH NAPLES, Fla. – Saving money and lives at the same time. A local fire department wants to change state law to allow first responders and Emergency Medical Technicians to use a cheaper alternative to the EpiPen, the standard practice against life-threatening allergic reactions.

Bees, food allergies, even fire ants can trigger life threatening allergic reactions. Right now, firefighters and EMTs use the EpiPen to deliver a vital dose of epinephrine to stop the reaction.

The EpiPen has a premeasured amount of the drug, making the delivery easy. But, firefighters say the cost is astronomical at almost $550 and they expire every year.

“If there’s a work around that’s safe we should be looking at it,” said Deputy Chief Jorge Aguilera with the North Collier Fire District.

Deputy Chief Aguilera says that work around, is an Epi Kit. It has all the components of an EpiPen, but the kit only costs $4.

Right now, state law says only paramedics can administer the kits, while firefighters and EMTs must use EpiPens. But, Deputy Chief Aguilera says the Epi Kits are already being used in Washington State, with huge success.

“What we know some of the experience in Seattle is not only save money. but increase the use of adrenaline because its affordable and they’ve been training more people to do it,” said Deputy Chief Aguilera.

Last year, the North Collier Fire District only used eight EpiPens. But, with the Epi Kits, they expect the use of epinephrine to increase dramatically.

North Collier Firefighters will pre-mark the dosage of each syringe. Plus, they’ll have a kit for kids and one for adults.  Now, they just need local and state officials on board.

“The cost factor especially for jurisdictions perhaps that don’t have the money that Collier County has, it seems like a good idea to me,” said resident Vickie Ahari.

The EMS Council for the fire district voted unanimously to write a letter to the Collier County Medical Director and the Florida Department of Health about the idea.

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