Anaphylaxis Readiness For Ambulance Teams
Anaphylaxis Community Expert (ACE) volunteers are problem-solvers. They look around their local institutions and organizations, identify those who might benefit from anaphylaxis training and education, and then reach out to help. All with the goal of saving lives during severe allergic reactions.
ACE volunteer Ray Davis, MD, a pediatric allergist with Allergy Consultants in St. Louis and Professor in Clinical Pediatrics, Division of Allergy and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine, targeted local ambulance teams. Knowing that first responders are key to saving lives, Dr. Davis hosted an interactive web conference for 50 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) titled “What Every EMT Should Know About Anaphylaxis: The Updated Guidelines.”
During the conference, Dr. Davis was glad to learn that the West St. Louis Ambulance Bureau recommended EMTs use epinephrine as the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis – but he was surprised to learn they were administering it via subcutaneous injection, or by needle under the skin.
Dr. Davis shared that guideline-based standard of care is to inject epinephrine directly into the muscle of the outer thigh with an auto-injector. This ensures that the full dose of epinephrine is administered every time and results in a much quicker delivery of the potentially life-saving medication.
After the web conference, many EMTs formally requested that the ambulance bureau implement Dr. Davis’s recommendation to update the anaphylaxis treatment policy. Dr. Davis joined the effort, reaching out to county officials, and three months later, the West St. Louis County Ambulance Bureau adopted the new policy – ensuring patients at risk for anaphylaxis receive guideline-based anaphylaxis care during emergencies.
“It made me realize how much more work is needed for our communities to be anaphylaxis prepared,” he says.
Dr. Davis recommends that people identify the anaphylaxis-related policies within their local emergency departments and ambulance squads.
“You may learn that your local ambulance squad doesn’t carry epinephrine or that your hospital’s Emergency Department doesn’t use epinephrine as a first-line anaphylaxis treatment,” he says. “Work with your local decision-makers to update those policies so that they’re guideline-based. It takes time and initiative – knocking on doors, calling and emailing people – but it’s worth it. Together, we can save lives.”
Written by Brenda Silvia-Torma, MEd, ACE Program Manager
Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) is a national, award-winning education, advocacy and outreach partnership program developed and hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network in partnership with the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P.
ACE volunteers across the country offer free awareness and training programs about food, latex and venom allergies, signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Members include allergists, school nurses, community members and parents.