Emergency allergic reaction calls on the rise

Epinephrine used by Greenville Fire-Rescue for severe allergic reactions.

Greenville Fire-Rescue is seeing a seasonal increase in emergency allergic reaction calls.

Lieutenant Chris Cieszko said it’s due to bees, wasps and fire ants being active in the spring and summer months.

In Wilson County, the Sheriff’s Office mourned the death of Lieutenant Ray “Bull” Tomlinson, who was off-duty when sources told WNCT’s Raleigh CNN affiliate that he went into cardiac arrest after being stung by a wasp.

In cities like Greenville and Kinston, only firefighters and paramedics carry epinephrine, the drug found inside EpiPens.

Lieutenant Cieszko said his medics do not use EpiPens because they actually draw the drug itself through a syringe and inject it.

He said first responders need training to understand the difference between a simple allergic reaction like a rash and anaphylaxis which is when one’s airways start closing and could lead to death.

“I think given in the wrong circumstance, if somebody’s not truly having an anaphylactic reaction; if they’re just having an allergic reaction, and you administer and they have heart problems, you can put them in cardiac arrest by giving them epinephrine,” Lt. Cieszko said.

He urged anyone who started experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction to call 9-1-1.

With the start of school just a month away, North Carolina law permits students to carry and use EpiPens as long as they meet certain conditions.

Those conditions can be found here.

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