Saint John YMCA equips EpiPen kits to tackle severe allergies

Click to play video: 'YMCA of Greater Saint John adds potentially life-saving kit'
YMCA of Greater Saint John adds potentially life-saving kit
WATCH ABOVE: The YMCA of Greater Saint John is the first public space in the city to have a special kit on hand to deal with a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Global's Andrew Cromwell reports. – Jan 25, 2017

There could literally only seconds to spare when someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, but at least one public facility in Saint John says it’s prepared should the need arise.

READ MORE: Cole Harbour first to bring ‘life-saving’ EpiPen program to Nova Scotia

The YMCA of Greater Saint John is the first public space in the city to have a special kit with EpiPen brand epinephrine auto-injectors on hand to deal with such a situation.

More than 100 staff have been trained to administer the auto-injectors should an emergency occur. The injector needs to be used immediately when the first symptoms of a severe allergic reaction are detected, which according to Health Canada can include swelling of the face, lips, tongue and throat, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or even a blood pressure drop and shock – also known as anaphylaxis.

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Alberta Stanton-Rousselle, a public health nurse with the Saint John Education Centre, said having epinephrine kits on hand can save lives because of what can come into the facility.

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“People bring food into the facility,” Stanton-Rousselle said. “People don’t always know how they’re going to respond. People have identified allergies, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve had a severe reaction in their past but they could going forward.”

With many people visiting the YMCA daily, CEO Shilo Boucher said having the kits helps increase safety.

“We have thousands of people that come through our doors every day and safety is really important to us and making sure that everybody who comes to the ‘Y’ and participates is safe,” Boucher explained.

READ MORE: EpiPen sold out at your drugstore? ‘Increased demand’ is hurting supply: Pfizer Canada

Each kit contains an adult EpiPen and one for a child. To use the EpiPen, a person removes the blue cap from the top and then pushes the orange tip into the person’s outer thigh. A good way to remember, Stanton-Rousselle said, is “blue to the sky, orange to the thigh,” – a phrase also used in TV commercials for the product.

Stanton-Rousselle said another important aspect is to always call 911 even if an EpiPen is available.

“It’s really important that we have the emergency medical team arrive, but if in a situation within five, six minutes somebody’s not responding even though the other method is a junior or vice-versa, it’s important that they would have a second, a backup,” Stanton-Rousselle said.

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She added similar kits are already in place at several facilities and schools outside the city and hopes the same can happen for all schools in Saint John.

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