Unique Sussex program saves man’s life after being stung by wasps

SHEPODY, N.B. – A unique public epinephrine auto-injector program in the Sussex-area saved its first life on Saturday, after a man with an unknown allergy went into anaphylactic shock.

Wellington McLean was ATVing on the trails near Martin Head Beach, about 50 kilometres southeast of Sussex, N.B., with his family.

He and his family were about to start a barbecue, when he was stung three times by a wasp.

“Within a minute the sensation went across my chin,” he said. “About a minute later I just felt something going over my body and I told them we had to get out of there.”

McLean added that he had been stung many times before, and had no idea he even had an allergy.

So, he got back on the ATV, and his daughter drove more than 20 kilometres to the nearest building.

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McLean said he can’t remember anything after getting on the vehicle.

“They said that she pretty well passed everything on the road to get [there],” he said.

By the time they made it to Adair’s Wilderness Lodge, McLean was in bad shape.

They didn’t know it at the time, but heading to Adair’s was the right move. It is one of the 24 sites in Sussex that is participating in a program to make epinephrine auto-injectors easily accessible.

The auto-injectors come in two doses, one for an adult, and one for a child.

Co-owner Ida Adair said she was contacted by nurse practitioner Kelly Dunfield at the beginning of the year to join the program. She’s very glad she did.

“He wouldn’t have lived until the ambulance came,” she said. “He wouldn’t have made it.”

The program places 30 cabinets with two Allerject epinephrine auto-injectors in public places around the area. Other sites include schools, arenas, and restaurants. Allerject has agreed to cover the costs of the medicine for 18 months, and replace any that get used in that time.

Dunfield also provides training on using the devices to each site with a cabinet. But, the device is easy to use and talks you through each step.

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Simply pull off the red safety cap, place the victim in a chair, or on the ground, and press to their thigh for five seconds. The auto-injector will even count down from five to one.

The initiative in the Sussex area is the only one in North America, but McLean hopes his story convinces other communities to start similar programs.

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