Sweet and sour

14th July 1995 at 01:00
The emergency that we hoped would never happen, just has. Eight-year-old Tom ate a peanut. He didn't recognise it because it was chocolate-covered - given to him by another child out of his packed lunch. Tom was sick and recognised his own symptoms enough to say "peanut". So what did we do?

Fortunately, we were fully aware of Tom's allergy and three weeks earlier we had been trained in the use of the Epi-pen. This pre-sealed hypodermic device contains a measured dose of adrenaline that can be injected into a child suffering from anaphylactic shock brought on by such an allergy.

First we called the ambulance. At the same time a member of staff collected the Epi-pen, which was prescribed by Tom's doctor, from the medicine cupboard.

Tom was tearful but coping. The Epi-pen is pushed hard on to the top part of the leg; when you hear a click, you hold for the count of 10. The child doesn't even have to undress - you can do it, as we did, through the fabric of trousers.

The needle cannot go deep enough to hit an artery or vein and the amount of adrenaline is no more than goes into your body when you are very frightened.

The ambulance arrived 25 minutes later but thanks to the Epi-pen Tom only needed to be taken to be checked at hospital.

As long as you have staff willing to be trained by a local health specialist in the use of the Epi-pen, it is a simple and safe method of dealing with a life-threatening emergency.

Penny Allsworth is acting head and Frieda Baxter a nursery nurse and first-aider at Colnbrook School, a primary for children with moderate learning difficulties in Watford, Hertfordshire.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today