Organization Working To Have Epinephrine In Public Spaces

Posted at 9:42 PM, Aug 27, 2016

Despite the focus on the skyrocketing prices of EpiPens, an organization in Nashville has been continuing to educate the public on anaphylaxis awareness.

Founders of LifeReach have made it their mission to spread awareness and provide training in case anyone were to suffer an anaphylactic reaction. 

Co-founders Carol Len Portis and Katie Lennon started the organization in 2012 after years of educating themselves. They learned the hard way what anaphylaxis was after their children had an extreme reaction to peanuts.

"It's a frightening experience that requires immediate attention," Lennon told NewsChannel 5. "The keys to treating this are to be truly educated and be prepared to respond."

The condition has been treated with an auto-injector like an EpiPen to give doses of epinephrine. 

Epinephrine is a drug that reverses anaphylaxis, an extreme allergic reaction that could lead to death if not treated quickly. 

In 2013, the Legislature passed a law that requires schools in Tennessee to carry at least two epinephrine auto-injectors. 

"It's the first time that a medicine can be prescribed to an entity and not an individual," Portis said. 

Most people may not realize that a new law passed this year that allows public spaces to carry the lifesaving drug. 

The list included camps, restaurants, churches, malls, and sports arenas.



"It really allows entities to make their own decision if they have a presence of allergen with the potential of anaphylaxis to have the medication onsite," Portis added. 

It has not even been three months since the law was enacted but LifeReach has been working to get the message across. Although it will take some time before public entities jump on board, the founders have hoped places will realize why having the drug is just as crucial as having a defibrillator.

"The goal is for the community to be educated, for the community to be prepared with epinephrine and to save lives," Lennon said. "That's why we got into this, if we saved one life, it's worth it."

Anaphylactic symptoms include the loss of breath and drop in blood pressure. Common anaphylaxis triggers include peanuts, insect bites, and medicine. 

Up to 200 fatalities every year are due to food allergies.

In addition to education, LifeReach also has its own kit and can properly dispose of unused and expired EpiPens. 

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