Today we had our annual anaphylaxis inservice. For the most part it’s a repetition of why/when/how to use an EpiPen. All staff in Ontario schools are trained (and retrained) yearly on how to use EpiPens in case a student in our care has an anaphylactic allergic reaction. This is mandated by Sabrina’s Law. This year I have a student with a severe peanut allergy in my class; the training felt more important this year.
After our lunch time meeting I went to my student and asked her if we could chat at last recess. She, like most students when asked to see a teacher at recess, asked if she was in trouble. I told her “no, I just want to take a look at your EpiPen. Maybe you can show me how it works?“ She gave me a look and said “but I don’t know how it works.”
“Hmmm… then we definitely need to talk at recess.”
The conversation that I had with her was amazing. We read the instructions on her EpiPen container. We role played a little and we talked the process of injection through. We laughed and learned a lot.
My favourite moment was when I asked her how she would know the EpiPen had worked. At first she mentioned the “click” noise from the instructions. Then I asked her if there was an easier way. She said “I think I might feel it.“
I kept wondering why I was the first person to do this with her. She’s grounded ten year old girl with great parents. Yet no one had ever showed her how to use this piece of equipment that could save her life. What about at school? When students get other equipment (like computers to help with learning disabilities) the school board and the Ministry of Education, give them hours of training. Teachers get trained on how to use EpiPens, but students don’t?
A few years ago Royan Lee wrote a great blog post about the "helmets” that we put on students. It made me wonder if we’re forgetting someone when it comes to student safety. Are we including them in the conversation? If their safety is important to us, shouldn’t we have these conversations WITH them, not just about them?