On-campus EpiPen training highlights need for awareness

Collegian file photo.

JOE KRISKO | STAFF REPORTER | jkrisko@butler.edu

On Oct. 19, primary HRC physician Maria Fletcher held an event which highlighted the critical need to educate people about EpiPens. The event, held at Butler’s Health and Recreation Complex, trained Butler students and staff on how and when EpiPens should be used to potentially save a life.  

Fletcher explained the first step in this process of aiding a person in need of an EpiPen is identifying if the person is even having a reaction to something.  

The severity of symptoms after a negative reaction can vary. A person experiencing a more mild reaction may exhibit symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy mouth, a few hives and mild nausea or discomfort. On the other hand, more severe reactions would involve more symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, weak pulse and widespread hives.

Once these symptoms are identified, the next step is to act immediately. Even if it is not 100 percent certain the patient is having a reaction, an EpiPen can still be administered without harming the person injected by it.

The steps for administering the EpiPen are as follows:

  • Hold the EpiPen with the needle facing down and the safety pointed up “blue to the sky, orange to the thigh.”
  • Take the blue safety off the top of the EpiPen by simply pulling up on it.
  • Firmly press the orange side down on the outer thigh of the person in need and hold it there for three seconds.
  • The pen can then be removed and the spot should be lightly massaged for ten seconds while you or another person calls for help.

As a physician for Butler Health Services for the past ten years, Fletcher has seen this need firsthand. This, along with a limited amount of awareness on campus, was the inspiration for her to hold this seminar.  

“I think any time the public feels empowered, it’s good for everybody,” Fletcher said.  

The training also comes at a time when shortages of EpiPens have become commonplace throughout the country, a fact which has caused concern among many people in the medical field and EpiPen users.

Li’Yonna McCallum, senior journalism major and EpiPen user, is all too familiar with this problem.

“It has been a bit of a struggle just fighting to make sure that I have the tool that is going to help save my life,” McCallum said “It’s a lot of self-advocating.”

Mylan, the company which sells EpiPens, is aware of these concerns and has been taking steps to try to eliminate these shortages. In a recent press release, Mylan noted they are expediting the shipment of the EpiPens to get to those in need as quickly as possible. They also noted they will be prioritizing giving the life saving medication to those with life-threatening allergies.

In a life or death situation, a lack of an Epi-Pen due to a shortage could prove to be fatal.  However, not knowing how to properly use one could lead to the same result, even if one is readily available.

“This is a life saving training,” McCallum said. “It is life or death for me and other students.”

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