HARRISBURG, Pa. — A bill that passed the Pennsylvania House last week aims to ensure training and protections for school bus drivers who administer epinephrine autoinjectors, or EpiPens.
EpiPens are used to deliver a dose of epinephrine to students who suffer from severe allergic reactions.
Pennsylvania Rep. Justin Simmons’ proposal would provide civil immunity to school bus drivers who use EpiPens on students who experience allergic reactions on the bus. Under the legislation, a school bus driver would have to first complete a training program developed by the state Department of Health and comply with school district policy to be qualified to use the EpiPen.
“The issue was brought to my attention by several mothers with children who have severe allergies,” Simmons said. “They are concerned about the oversight gap that exists for their kids between home and school. Nurses and trained teachers can administer the EpiPens at school. But what happens if the allergic reaction occurs while the child is on the school bus? My legislation allows the bus driver to help out without the fear of any legal consequences.”
Some Pennsylvania school districts and school bus contractors currently permit their drivers to administer EpiPens to student passengers who have an allergic reaction, but Simmons said that drivers may be reluctant to apply the potentially lifesaving treatment because of legal liability issues.
House Bill 2049 doesn't require school districts or contractors to enact an EpiPen policy — only that such a policy would allow for civil immunity if the guidelines are met.
The bill is now under consideration in the Pennsylvania Senate, where it was referred to the education committee on Friday.