Unanimous support given to Senate Bill 8
Senate Bill 8, Care of Students with Diabetes in School, has sailed through the house and senate and is awaiting Governor Huntsman’s approval. The bill, backed by Sen. Patrice Arent, D-Holladay, allows public school personnel to administer glucagon to diabetic students in the case of an emergency.
According to Tom VanGorder, Director of Student Services for Park City School District, there are approximately 12 children in the district with diabetes.
If a diabetic child has low blood sugar levels and looses consciousness at school, standard procedure is to dial 9-1-1 and wait for emergency personnel to come administer the proper care.
According to Park City resident and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation board member, Steve Hetrick, valuable time can be wasted while waiting for an emergency crew to arrive. In that time frame, a shot of glucagon can be administered saving the child from possible brain damage and even death.
Hetrick’s four-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 17 months old. Hetrick will be grateful to have the legislation in place to help protect his son’s health when he enters the public school system in Park City.
Glucagon is a hormone naturally produced by the body and can be injected by non-medical personnel who have been trained in giving the shot.
Holladay resident Natalie Rogers, who is responsible for Arent introducing the legislation, has a diabetic six-year old daughter. Rogers trained the 11-year old student who walks home with her daughter to administer a glucagon shot.
Rogers initially sought the help of her legislator when she learned that only a school nurse could give glucagon to a child.
"I was told that only a nurse can administer the procedure. Realistically even if you had a school nurse at every school they don’t cover after-school activities."
With senate bill eight a parent can request that someone at the school become trained in the procedure to administer glucagon. The individual that steps forward to do this must be a volunteer. For Rogers, this is critical.
"The most important thing to me is that it’s someone who wants to do it," she said.
Rogers, who has followed the bill since its inception, said she hasn’t encountered anyone opposed it. People have raised concerns about its safety, the training requirements and how it works.
The bill grants legal immunity to the volunteers, while Both Rogers and Hetrick confirm that glucagon is safe.
"It’s not something that can hurt you. Not at all," Hetrick said.
Jill Thompson, whose diabetic daughter attends Jeremy Ranch Elementary School is excited to see the legislation might pass into law.
"It’s a quick injection, it can go right through the clothing. It’s a safety measure. It’s a lifesaver until medical personnel can get there," Thompson said.
Her child carries Glucagon with her to school in an emergency kit, but right now no school personnel could administer it. Medical emergency staff would have to give it to her. "It is in her emergency kit but unless I give to her first then she’s not going to get it," Thompson said.
She expressed some frustration about schools not being aware of how serious diabetes is, and the importance of getting the right care to children. "The sad part about diabetes is school administrators and teachers are really naive about the dangers of (it)," she said.
Hetrick is optimistic about the legislation and says it will improve things.
"It’s a win-win for everyone. School employees can now legally take potential life saving action, whereas before they could only wait for help to arrive," he said.
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