New Brunswick

Sussex places epinephrine injectors in public locations

The Town of Sussex is piloting the supply of epinephrine injectors in approximately two dozen locations that are publicly available for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis.

Anaphylactic shock can be fatal if treatments aren't immediately available

The Town of Sussex is piloting the supply of epinephrine auto-injectors in 24 locations, which are publicly available for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis.

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).

The sites, in areas between Belleisle and Sussex Corner, include 10 high schools, five restaurants, the Sussex fire department, and several recreational centres in the community.

Rothesay High School will also have the cabinet installed, in honour of student Caroline Lorette, who died from a severe allergic reaction to a dairy product last July, just days after she turned 14.

"It allows the lay public to feel comfortable with education and be able to administer epinephrine auto-injectors in public places," said Kelly Dunfield, a nurse practitioner from the town, who first proposed the idea.

"You take the cover off and it walks you through each step very succinctly, and it's quite amazing to see when you first see one."

Dunfield dreamed up the pilot project during a talk on allergies a few years ago at a nurse practitioner conference.

Dr. Andrea Canty, an allergist, shared her enthusiasm for the idea and together they developed the proposal for the cabinets, which was funded by the Sussex and Area Community Foundation.

Sanofi Canada provided an 18-month supply of auto-injectors, and Anaphylaxis Canada provided training to site personnel.

"We've trained hundreds of people, we we went and did a one-hour educational session with people, answered questions, you can't put something like this in place without the education behind it," she said.

The program is intended to last beyond the shelf life of the devices, said Dunfield.

"We didn't want something that would last just 18 months, then fall to the wayside after that. We wanted something sustainable," she said.

"So they all agreed they're going to do quality assurance on it, checking cabinets for alarms that are working, expiry dates, and then they will replace the Allerject after these 18 months of the project."

The Town of Hampton is in the process of starting a similar program, she said.

Anaphylaxis is a condition that can escalate in minutes, and the immediate injection of epinephrine is the indicated treatment.

Dunfield's husband has a serious food allergy and she has counseled many patients who are at risk.

She says the issue hit home when a fellow guest at a local New Year's function died of a severe allergic reaction after eating from the buffet.

"With the right medication on hand, perhaps it could have been prevented," she said.