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Nurse sets up easy access auto injectors to help with severe allergic reactions

Kelly Dunfield poses by an epinephrine injection box in a handout photo. Dunfield, a nurse practitioner, says she hopes to prevent needless deaths from severe allergic reactions by installing publicly accessible auto injectors of epinephrine in prominent locations in Sussex, N.B. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
September 02, 2015 - 1:28 PM

SUSSEX, N.B. - A nurse practitioner hopes to prevent needless deaths from severe allergic reactions by installing publicly accessible auto injectors of epinephrine in prominent locations in Sussex, N.B.

Kelly Dunfield, 51, and her son Robert Dunfield, a 22-year-old medical student, have already arranged for the installation of 30 cabinets with two auto injectors of the medicine — one for a child and one for an adult — in 24 locations ranging from golf courses to fire stations.

She says the program was inspired by the increasing use of publicly accessible defibrillators, which have saved the lives of people who suffer sudden heart attacks.

Dunfield also wants to help prevent deaths by anaphylaxis like the one that took the life of 14-year-old Caroline Lorette, who died last year in Rothesay, N.B., from a reaction to a dairy product.

The funding for the cabinets was provided by a local foundation, while the Allerject units in the pilot project were provided by Sanofi. Sites that take the units sign agreements to resupply the medicine when it expires.

"We would like to see these spread across the country the way the automated external defibrillators have," Dunfield said in a telephone interview.

The boxes include instructions on how to use the auto injectors, she added.

High school teacher Shauna Betts, who lives in Sussex, said educators are pleased to have the brightly coloured boxes in their school.

Some students with severe allergies may forget their auto injectors at home or may not purchase an injector due to financial constraints, she said.

"Now everybody will know where it is. In the past you had to go to the (school) office and see if someone has one," she said in a telephone interview.

Dunfield said nobody in the community of 35,000 has had to use one of the Allerject units so far.

A mall in Hamilton launched a pilot project last year to help make sure epinephrine auto injectors are readily available. The project at the Jackson Square Mall was inspired by the death of a 12-year-old girl who died from an allergic reaction last year at a mall in nearby Burlington, Ont., after eating an ice cream cone.

Dunfield said she has received inquiries about extending the program into other communities and no one has tampered with the boxes in Sussex.

"We've had no issues of vandalism to date," she said.

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.

Follow @mtuttoncporg on twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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