April 28, 2011
A Case for Improved Risk Protocols
Campus Recreation programs offering outdoor components face a threat far more real and menacing than a crashing economy. This hazard brings stress, chaos, and in extreme cases, death — and it is almost entirely beyond our control. It is a nefarious agent, too, in that many of us have unwittingly served as vectors for transmission of its typically surprising attacks. Those who have dealt with it before know it well; the memory of its effects conjuring images straight out of The Exorcist or Poltergeist. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about the lowly peanut.
Of course, the peanut here can just as easily be replaced by bee stings, gluten, latex, or any item from the growing list of allergens that effect today’s students. Are the immune systems of today’s students less robust, or have our methods of tracking and understanding allergic response mechanisms improved? The debate remains open, with elements of truth scattered liberally on both ends of the spectrum. Regardless of where the answers lie, the truth for Recreation Program Coordinators remains immutable — all programs which offer students educational, recreational, or social programs that could expose them to uncontrolled (or uncontrollable) environments need a coordinated strategy for responding to environmentally introduced allergens.
The best defense against sudden anaphylaxis is the EpiPen. Epi-Pen is an auto-injector that administers epinephrine–and epinephrine is the definitive emergency treatment for severe allergic reactions. Called anaphylaxis, these severe allergic reactions are marked by swelling of the throat or tongue, hives, and trouble breathing. When it strikes, life is at risk. And time is critical, since anaphylaxis can become fatal within minutes if untreated.