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A Mother Pushes for Allergy Safety on NYS School Buses

What would happen if a child got stung by a bee or ate something he or she was allergic to on a school bus? When every minute counts during an attack of anaphylaxis, a bus driver trained to administer epinephrine could literally save a life. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of one mother, legislation is being proposed in New York State that would allow employees of companies that provide transportation to be able to administer an epinephrine auto-injector in emergency circumstances.

Stacey Saiontz with her sons Jared and Elliott
Stacey Saiontz with her sons Jared and Elliott

A Mother Pushes for Allergy Safety on NYS School Buses

By Kristen Stewart
May 22nd, 2017

Stacey Saiontz of Chappaqua, New York does everything parents of extremely allergic children do. She brings her son Jared’s food to restaurants and friends’ homes. She wipes down everything from airplane seats and arm rests to playground equipment. And of course she carries Benadryl and an epinephrine auto-injector (EAI) device.

She has also taken her fight to keep her son safe one step further—all the way to the New York state capitol.

Jared was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, eggs, wheat, oat, rye, barley, tree nuts, sesame and several alternative grains after he’d spent his first several months of life constantly vomiting and covered in hives. Exposure to any of these allergens can result in a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.

Today Stacey is looking to expand their protection by including school bus drivers. Assembly Bill A07635 sponsored by David Buchwald (and Senate Bill S06005 sponsored by Terrence Murphy) would allow employees of companies that provide transportation to be able to administer an epinephrine auto-injector in emergency circumstances.

"This legislation is important because when a person experiences anaphylaxis their throat can close in seconds to minutes, often not leaving enough time to wait for emergency personnel to arrive," says Stacey who has a son with severe allergies.

"A delay in administering epinephrine is often the difference between life and death."

The number of children with food allergies has increased from 3.4 percent to 5.7 percent over a span of 20 years. Add in thousands of students riding the bus to and from school and extracurricular activities, often eating breakfast or a snack on the way, and it's a recipe for disaster.

"Many parents, who are able to, drive their children to school," says Stacey. "However, many parents who work full-time are not able to drive their children and are forced to play Russian roulette and hope that their child does not have an allergic reaction on the bus."

She is hoping passage of these bills will change that--and that it's part of a new trend. Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia already have similar laws.

Currently the bills need to be introduced and voted on in the Health Committees of the Assembly and Senate. Once they pass these Committees they will go to the full Assembly and Senate for a vote.

To support this legislation, please contact members of the Health Committees to voice support.

Reaching out to all members of the Assembly and Senate asking them to vote yes on the bills is also helpful.

Assembly contact information
Senate contact information

Our association is very grateful for any support you might choose to give our legislative efforts at the local, state and national level.

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