Sussex allergy injector project saves life of man stung by wasps

Just months after launching a pilot project in the Town of Sussex that makes allergy injectors available in public places, it is being credited with saving the life of one man who had no idea he was allergic to wasp stings.

Wellington McLean says putting epinephrine auto-injectors in public spaces was 'a life saver'

When Wellington McLean headed out with his family on their all-terrain-vehicles on Saturday, a deadly allergy attack was the last thing on his mind.

He told Maritime Noon host Norma Lee MacLeod that he had stopped and was sitting under a tree when he put his hand down to get up and it slipped into a hole.
Wellington McLean credits his daughter Miranda McShane, pictured here, and the allergy injector pilot project for saving his life when he suffered severe anaphalixis after being stung by wasps. (courtesy of Miranda McShane)

"Apparently it was a wasps nest and they came out and I got stung on the finger and twice on the chin," McLean said.

"Within a minute my chin went numb and then it seemed to stop and I felt something going through my body and then I told my wife and family that we had to get out of there."

McLean says he felt like he was suffocating, and concluded right away that it had to be a reaction to the yellow jacket wasp stings.

"I just remember that I was standing there and the air was going in my lungs, I could get air in but I couldn't get nothing back out," he said.

McLean says this is the first allergic reaction he has experienced in his life.

"I've been stung hundreds of times and I've never been allergic to anything that I knew of."

McLean doesn't remember much of the trip on the back of the ATV his daughter was driving to get help at a wilderness lodge about 25 minutes away.

The family was hoping to use a phone to call an ambulance, and had no idea that it was one of the sites for the new allergy auto-injector project.

"If it wasn't for her to get me there in time to get that pen and if the pen hadn't of been there — well it would have been over I think," he said.

Allergy project expected to expand

It was Kelly Dunfield, a nurse practitioner from Sussex, who first proposed the idea of putting epinephrine auto-injectors in public locations from Belleisle to Sussex Corner.

The Allerject auto-injectors, both adult and children's dosages, are stored in wall-mounted cabinets, similar to those used for automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

McLean says he was given the adult injector, and when it took the ambulance more than 15 minutes to reach the lodge, he was given the child injector as well as he waited for help.

Dunfield says she was elated when she heard McLean's story.

"I was elated at the fact that Adair's Wilderness Lodge was one of our pilot sites and they had the Allerject available to him and the fact that it saved his life was the most wonderful thing."
Twenty-four locations in the Sussex area have Allerject injectors available as part of a pilot project started by nurse practitioner Kelly Dunfield. (Allerject)

She explains that Adair's Wilderness Lodge was chosen because of its distance from the hospital.

"These need to be available publicly and quickly... our hope is that this will spread to other sites in our own community as well as around the country," Dunfield said.

McLean says he won't leave home without three allergy pens in his pocket from now on.

"The most amazing thing is that Kelly Dunfield got this stuff on the go — I appreciate it so much because it was a life saver for me and it could very well save a lot more lives if they had them in place."

​Dunfield says McLean's story has created a lot of interest from people across the province and the country who are hoping to introduce similar programs in their communities.