The city of Hamilton is putting food allergy auto-injectors into two local food courts this summer as part of a pilot project that could eventually see them placed in every food court and restaurant in the city.
Security staff in Jackson Square and Eastgate Mall will be trained to use epinephrine auto-injectors, often referred to by the brand name EpiPen. If someone has a noticeable allergic reaction, security will administer the drug.
The city will spend $82,000 on the project. Part of that will go to Anaphylaxis Canada to train a still-unknown number of security personnel. The rest will go to McMaster University, which will use the pilot as part of a study to test elements such as usage and consumer confidence.
McMaster is still pondering how much legal responsibility it wants to carry. But the legal risk is “so remote,” it’s not enough to deter city hall, said Coun. Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster.
“There’s risk going down those stairs,” he said. “What you have to do is measure that risk.”
The pilot will roll out in mid-June. The city is still hammering out agreements with the malls, food vendors and McMaster.
The project started with the Rotary Club of Ancaster AM, which approached Ferguson to take it to council. It’s attracted international interest, said Laurie Harada, executive director of Anaphylaxis Canada.
"This has not been done before to the best of my knowledge," she said.
"What’s really important is if your'e going to be trying something, you have to measure how effective it is because others are going to be looking to model this."
The closest applicable law appears to be the Good Samaritan Law, which covers everything but gross negligence, said city lawyer Janice Atwood-Petkovski.
It's important to work out those details, Mayor Bob Bratina said during the board of health meeting Tuesday.
"This is not zero risk."
It's important that people with food allergies don't interpret the project as meaning they can leave their auto-injectors at home, Harada said.
City council will ratify the decision at a meeting Wednesday. The project came after a 12-year-old girl died from an allergic reaction in a Burlington food court last year.