Today I found myself completley unable to express my true feelings, which is very unusual for me. I was so appalled and horrified, I just ran out of words to adequately express it.

See what you make of it.

Bianca works as a teaching assistant in a college. She is part of a team of people who work one to one with students in need of additional support because they have disabilities or particular special needs. Bianca is an ex-nurse, an asthmatic and suffers from some allergies already. Probably as a result of her work with patients over the years, Bianca had a severe allergic reaction a week or so ago while blowing up a party balloon, and was rushed into hospital, having difficulty in breathing. She had suffered an anaphylactic reaction to natural rubber (latex), and has been warned that she must carry her epi-pen (an auto-injector containing synthetic adrenaline) with her at all times. If she comes into contact with a latex or rubber item again, her body will dramatically react to the rubber and start to shut down within minutes as it goes into anaphylactic shock. She has been left in no doubt that the next reaction will kill her if she doesn’t receive the adrenaline in her epi-pen quickly – well before any ambulance is likely to arrive.    

When she returned to work, she explained to her colleagues what had happened, and that if this were to happen to her at work, she might need one of her colleagues to administer her epi-pen to her, if she was unable to do it for herself. Bianca’s colleagues, because of the students they work with, have all been trained to administer an epi-pen in an emergency. Bianca felt safe because of the sheer volume of people trained to respond in an emergency all around her……


Except her colleagues told her they would not be prepared to administer it to her because she was not a student.


 I am truly speechless.


8 Responses to “Unbelievable”

  1. 1 Spence Kennedy 4 September 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Sadly all too believable. I’m sure that they’re simply adhering to the letter of their contract – drawn up with the shadow of legal action across it. I wonder if Bianca went into anaphylactic shock in front of them whether they would be quite so certain of their roles and responsibilities. If I had an epi pen to hand I know where I’d be sticking it…

  2. 2 drunkenspaniel 4 September 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks Spence. I know where I’d be sticking it too.
    Watching someone die in front of you, knowing you could help if you wanted to isn’t something I honestly believemost people would be capable of. Its just the idiocy of saying the statement – and how it made Bianca feel that gets me.

  3. 3 hoverfrog 5 September 2008 at 10:35 am

    Wha! Huh! What? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Presumably a visitor to the college would be treated if they needed it, just as a student would. Why not then a fellow staff member?

    What sort of insane legality excludes staff from help if it is required? As a first aider myself I can administer aid to anyone who requires it, taking any necessary steps to keep them alive until better trained people can take over. That could be a member of my family, work mates, or random strangers. I’m protected under the law to a certain level by the training that I have received and certification that I know what I’m doing.

    I cannot administer drugs or perform surgery but I can take “appropriate measures” to prolong and sustain life where necessary.

    Are they simply trying to upgrade their training to allow them to do more? Are they using Bianca’s condition as an excuse to secure more funding and training that will make them more employable? If so they have gone about it in an extremely offensive way that seems designed more to get her (or them) moved on than to give them what they need to keep the college safe for her.

  4. 4 drunkenspaniel 5 September 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Frong, I don’t think they’ve really thought it through properly. They’re just idiots.

    My advice was: Someone who deliberately withholds medical help when they have the knowledge, equipment and capacity to do so would be negligent and could (and should!) be prosecuted.

    What they’re saying isn’t legal at all. Madness.

  5. 5 kingmagic 7 September 2008 at 8:17 pm

    In law people are covered by the ‘Good Samaritan Act’ so long as they dont go beyond their level of training and cause further harm. (Although if you did go beyond what you were taught and saved someones life I think it would be overlooked)

    What is happening now in the States is that if someone with the knowledge and/or skill does not offer their services, and walks on by for instance, then they can be sued.

    Someone needs to have a word with these teachers as legally they are wrong and much worse they are morally wrong!

  6. 6 wakeupscared 15 September 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I’m a bit astounded by it too; I think it would be one thing if the people hadn’t been trained to administer the epi-pen; but they obviously are.

    I don’t know where responsibility lies, but I’m assuming – once a student arrives at the college, then any “special needs” they may have are catered for (so, needing the epi-pen in an emergency is covered) but it sounds like then that the staff of the college are treated worse than the students?

    I guess if the staff can’t do it, then it must be down to the students; in which case (if it were me) I’d ensure that the epi-pen was placed somewhere obvious (and identified with each class) and periodic reminders given to the class as to how to administer it, should I be unable to administer it to myself (along with instructions as to what to do while I recover from the reaction)

  7. 7 drunkenspaniel 15 September 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Wakey – its NO WAY down to the students. Its the responsibility of any trained person in the vicinity, regardless of their label!!

  8. 8 wakeupscared 16 September 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I’m nodding here; I think I misapplied my emphasis – I think I meant that if the staff won’t do it, it’s only the students left… and, I think as a student I wouldn’t _want_ to have that responsibility (not to mention having to face that moral conundrum should I find myself in a situation of have the life of a teacher/lecturer I hated in my hands)

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