British Columbia

University of Victoria to equip security staff with EpiPens

The University of Victoria is taking a new approach in dealing with anaphylactic reactions.

Campus Security Services say they respond to more than 400 medical emergency calls every year

UVic Food Services dietitian Nicole Fetterly and staff display the EpiPens now available to students. (UVic Photo Services)

The University of Victoria is taking a new approach to dealing with people who experience anaphylactic reactions.

The University's campus security services says it responds to more than 400 medical emergency calls every year, and many of them are allergy related.

Now, security staff at the campus will be equipped with a stock of EpiPens — epinephrine-delivering devices that can save lives if someone on campus suffers a reaction and isn't carrying medication.

"First year students are just an incredibly vulnerable population for anaphylaxis," said UVic Food Service dietitian Nicole Fetterly, who started the initiative called Stock Epi.

"They're in a new environment. Everything's new, they're feeding themselves. They could easily forget their EpiPen in their backpack or purse."

Fetterly said the program — to her knowledge — is the first of its kind on a B.C. university campus.

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death.

Fetterly had been working on campus, labelling food items that may contain allergens, when she heard about epinephrine stocks being introduced to universities in New Brunswick and Ontario.

In 2015, an Ontario student at Queens University died due to a severe allergic reaction when there was a lack of epinephrine on hand to treat it quickly.

Fetterly and her colleagues wanted to avoid a similar situation in B.C., and partnered with the university's student health services and campus security to start the program.

Now, the UVic security team has access to six EpiPens — three adult, three junior doses — and have all been trained on how to recognize anaphylaxis and administer the medicine.

The training is managed by a registered nurse from student health services and is set to be repeated yearly.

Fetterly stressed that Stock Epi does not replace the need for students with potentially life-threatening allergies to always carry their own epinephrine auto-injectors.

With files from All Points West