A Magen David Adom ambulance stands by near the Western Wall.
(photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)
All trained staffers and volunteers on Magen David Adom’s fleet of ambulances and ambucycles are now equipped with Epipens that treat life-threatening allergies.
Until now, only doctors and fully trained paramedics – as well as patients with severe allergies themselves – could carry Epipens.
Epipens are automatic syringes that inject the neurotransmitter epinephrine to treat life-threatening allergic reactions caused by insect bites or stings, foods, medications, latex and other causes. Epinephrine is in a class of medications called alpha- and beta-adrenergic agonists, and works by relaxing the muscles in the airways and tightening the blood vessels.
The decision to encompass non-paramedics was taken by MDA, the Health Ministry, the Israel Allergy Society and others who said medics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) can also carry and use them in the event of someone experiencing anaphylactic shock.
MDA produced interactive software to teach those who are not paramedics to use the pen.
United Hatzalah has for the last five years equipped all its paramedics and doctors with Epipens, and United Hatzalah president and founder Eli Beer told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that he plans to equip all the organization’s 3,000 volunteers who serve as EMTs with epinephrine pens as well.
MDA medical division head Dr. Rafi Strugo explained that anaphylactic shock – a speedy reaction to allergy that begins with a rash, swelling of the throat and low blood pressure – may end in death in severe cases. There are thousands of Israelis who could have a severe allergic reaction to certain substances, he said.
Many people with severe allergies carry Epipens, but sometimes they forget them. A few years ago, a young woman with an allergy to nuts went to a cafe and ordered Belgian waffles; when she asked the waitress if the dish contained nuts and was mistakenly told it wasn’t, she went into anaphylactic shock and could not be saved because she forgot her Epipen.
MDA said on Thursday that every year, MDA personnel treat some 3,500 cases of allergic reactions, a little less than 10 percent of them involving acute allergic reactions.