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911 calls for severe allergic reactions nearly double in summer: BCEHS

Paramedics urge vigilance for people at risk of anaphylaxis
BCEHS paramedic public information officer Brian Twaites (Photo Submitted by BCEHS)

B.C. Emergency Health Services is urging people with severe allergies, and parents with young children, to stay vigilant as paramedics see an increase of 911 calls for people at risk of anaphylaxis in the summertime.

With summer comes an increased risk of insect stings and exposure to allergens like peanuts, milk and eggs at picnics and barbeques. BCEHS says that leads to almost double the usual calls to 911and they want people to watch for the signs of anaphylaxis.

READ MORE:Allergy season packs a greater wallop this year

“In the fall and the winter, approximately 300 calls roughly are coming in for allergic reactions and now during the summer months, we see that generally double to about five to 600 calls a month in July, August and September,” said Brian Twaites, BCEHS paramedic public information officer.

Things to look for include severe skin rash, swollen lips and eyes, swelling in your tongue or throat with difficulty swallowing.

“Patients may have difficulty breathing, and their airways sound wheezy like their airway passages are narrowing and they can get excessive nausea and vomiting.”

Twaite highlighted the importance of Epipen and making sure to have one on your person if you have severe allergies, adding that having multiple Epipens is even better. People should also check the expiry date.

READ MORE: Malfunctioning EpiPens could harm patients, companies say

“If you’re not having a serious reaction like anaphylaxis, like if you’re having a minor allergic reaction, you can phone 811 and talk to HealthLink BC and they’ll be able to answer some questions for you and give you some guidance,” Twaites said.

If HealthLink BC feels the reaction is more serious than you thought they will connect you right away to 911 and get you the help needed.

“If you see someone who is experiencing anaphylaxis, we want you to phone 911 right away and remain calm, stay with the patient and follow the advice of our dispatch staff. They will tell you what to do, and help walk you through the process while paramedics are en route.”

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