HARRISBURG, Pa. — The state House of Representatives last week passed a bill that aims to ensure training and protections for school bus drivers who administer epinephrine autoinjectors, or EpiPens.
According to sponsor Rep. Justin Simmons, House Bill 423 would help to ensure the health and safety of Pennsylvania students who suffer from severe allergic reactions. Simmons proposed a similar bill last year, which passed the House but stalled in the Senate.
Now, the new version moves to the Senate again for consideration. It has been referred to the Senate’s education committee.
Simmons’ proposal would provide civil immunity to school bus drivers who administer EpiPens to students who experience an allergic reaction while riding on a school bus. To be qualified to use the EpiPen, drivers would have to complete a training program developed by the state Department of Health and comply with school district policy.
“Our goal is to allow more children with allergies to receive this often lifesaving emergency treatment,” Simmons said. “A group of mothers in my district brought the issue to my attention over the concern that their children would have an allergic reaction while on the school bus, threatening their lives. They believe it only makes sense for the bus driver to be able to treat the child immediately in order to prevent a serious medical problem, and I agree.”
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 423 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.
If signed into law, the legislation would take effect in 60 days.