Local Schools Practicing Allergy Emergency Plan

Reporter: Sally Delta

Lynchburg, VA - About 18 % of kids have some type of food allergy, and many local schools have protocols for how to handle food allergy emergencies.

School leaders have gone as far as teaching not only nurses, but teachers how to use EpiPens. They say the scary thing is how many kids have allergies now and how quickly the reaction can happen.

"We averaged last year, about 70 kids in our system who have an EpiPen at school," said Anne Bond-Gentry, the student services coordinator for Lynchburg City Schools.

They say that number is likely to grow.

Macie Copp, 4, isn't in school, but she's part of that growing population.

"We found out when she was about a year old, she had a reaction to trail mix," said Stefanie Copp, her mother.

Copp rushed Macie to a doctor and found out she was allergic to cashews.

"They make me throw up," said Macie.

"She hasn't actually ingested them, but just having them in her mouth has caused her to vomit," said Copp.

Sometimes all it takes is food touching her skin.

"She had ice cream touch her skin, she has a milk allergy and it left a rash there," said Copp.

Bond-Gentry is the student services coordinator at Lynchburg City schools. Since 2006, she's seen the number of allergy suffering students double.

She says students aren't automatically given Benadryl if they have an allergic reaction. The school follows a specific care plan that's unique to each student. It's signed by the child's parent and physician, and they're required to follow it.

But she says in most cases, teachers and nurses already know what to do.

"Most of the health assistants and nurses have an idea about the children who do have illness or allergies so they would immediately know," she said.

Some of the schools have allergy- free zones in the cafeteria. They'll even send letters home to notify all parents of a child who has an allergy to be cautious when packing their child's lunch.

But Bond-Gentry says all the precautions in the world may not be enough.

"Things for small children move very quickly and it's possible that a child could have a reaction and you possibly couldn't save them," she said.

As a mother of an allergy sufferer, Copp recommends being an advocate for your child and making sure everyone around them knows about their allergy and how to handle it in an emergency.