Bill could soon pass to allow Epi-pens in school

Posted at 1:36 PM, Feb 09, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-10 10:34:36-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY. Va. (WTVR) Many more parents in Chesterfield are taking precautions when it comes to safeguarding their children against allergies, in the wake of the death of little seven-year-old Amarria Johnson

Carlin Benson, 3, keeps his mother Emileigh on her toes. His safety is priority one to her.

“We deal with it every day but we’re not as severe as some kids are,” said Benson.

Carlin lives with a host of environmental and food allergies.

“He is allergic to peanuts, wheat, watermelon, peaches, garlic, tomatoes, green beans, green peas,” said his mother.

Emileigh’s heart still aches for the mother of Amarria Johnson. In January, the seven-year-old died on a school playground at Chesterfield’s Hopkins Elementary after suffering from an allergic reaction.

“You think, ’Oh my, that could be our son,'" said Benson.

Shawn Smith with Chesterfield Public Schools, said dozens of parents have provided medical information pertaining to their child to prevent a similar emergency since Amarria’s tragic death.

“We’ve seen a positive increase in awareness,” said Smith. “We’ve seen at least 40 families come forward providing the school division a Health Emergency Plan and the needed medication.”

In fact, in the last 45 days alone, staff members at different Chesterfield schools have had to administer medication provided by parents to students who showed signs of allergic reactions.

“Without those plans, without those medicines, a school division could not carry out those doctors orders,” Smith said.

Johnson’s death ha prompted new legislation at the General Assembly which would create emergency guidelines and provide emergency allergy medications in school districts across Virginia.

“The community awareness has been invaluable,” said Smith.

Benson knows that caring for a child who lives with allergies is very demanding, but urges fellow parents to maintain vigilance. The life of their little ones depends on it.

“It is unfortunate it takes a tragedy like that,” said Benson. “But I hope something fortunate will come out of it.”

The Senate Committee on Education passed the allergy guidelines bill Thursday morning.

The House Committee on Education passed a similar bill Wednesday. The full House and Senate should be voting on legislation in the next few weeks.

Benson said that parents need to be thorough and make sure everyone at home and in school are on the same page.