PALMYRA mum Susie Tyrrell will feel more uneasy about sending her seriously allergic son Adam to school now teachers will no longer receive face-to-face anaphylactic training.
To illustrate the dangers of poor training, a 16-year-old died in NSW in 2011 when a teacher mistakenly pricked his own thumb with a single-dose epipen and another epipen couldn’t be sourced quickly.
The WA government has decided to slash hands-on training for teachers and child care centre workers in favour of online education.
“That is a concern,” Ms Tyrrell says. “I think the training is essential. The difference between having training and not having training is saving a life really.”
Adam, five, is allergic to milk, tree nuts, sesame and lentils.
“The first time we found out that he had severe allergies… [was] when he was nine months old he had an anaphylactic reaction to sesame,” Ms Tyrrell says.
“He vomited severely, then he got covered in hives all over his body like a nettle rash. Then he had breathing difficulties.
“We didn’t have any antihistamines or Epipens or anything because we didn’t know he had a problem then.”
Ms Tyrrell’s MP, Alfred Cove independent Janet Woollard described the removal of hands-on training as “short sighted”.
“We have to have face-to-face training by trained nurses,” says Dr Woollard, a former nurse.
“This is what experts see as best practice. WA is now stepping sideways or even backwards in provision of an online course.”
Epipens and Anapens inject adrenaline to treat anaphylactic shock, but they require precise, prolonged application and there are multiple types with differing operations.
Labor’s policy is to train school staff and supply epipens in schools but Dr Woollard says that needs to go further. She wants child care staff trained too, along with increased awareness in restaurants, as even the slightest contamination, like one-thousandth of a peanut, can trigger an attack.
by DAVID BELL