When children are at risk of anaphylaxis, there is a world of difference between asking teachers to act in loco parentis and asking them to accept professional medical responsibility. How much better it is for a teacher to be forewarned, rather than be caught unprepared and unarmed with an antidote.
The oldest of my three daughters died two-and-a-half years ago in just these circumstances, within half an hour of eating some pretzels with a peanut butter filling at school.
All that the Anaphylaxis Campaign is asking is that teachers volunteer to do their best in the absence of a parent. We are not expecting teachers to become medically qualified, but can arrange for half an hour's training for volunteers. The likelihood is that it will never happen, but could any caring adult turn his or her back if it did let alone a teacher? Can you imagine the strain on parents asked to send such a child to school without the means to treat a life-threatening allergic reaction? Dissemination of information and the means to treat anaphylaxis are our best weapons against it. Surely teachers, of all people, see the value of this kind of education.
Rosemary Turner lives in Birmingham. The Anaphylaxis Campaign, POBox 149, Fleet, Hants GU13 9XU.