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Supporting children and students with anaphylaxis and severe allergies

This page outlines how education staff, care services, parents, guardians, and health professionals work together to manage a child or student with anaphylaxis and severe allergies in education and care settings.

Anaphylaxis emergency first aid procedures are also listed on this page.

About anaphylaxis and severe allergies

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life threatening allergic reaction, that requires immediate treatment. 

Anaphylaxis often involves more than one body system (e.g. skin, respiratory, gastro-intestinal and cardiovascular). A severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis usually occurs within 20 minutes to 2 hours of exposure to the trigger and can rapidly become life threatening.

Learn more about anaphylaxis including:

  • common triggers
  • diagnosis
  • management and treatment.

Health support plans and agreements

If the child or student has an eating disorder, the education or care service should refer to health support planning for children and students in education and care settings to ensure that the appropriate plans and agreements are in place. This is in addition to the eating disorder-specific plans and agreements listed on this page. 

Action plans

Health professionals should complete the ASCIA immunology and allergy action plans to provide instructions for the individual management of anaphylaxis and allergies. 

Managing adrenaline autoinjector (EpiPen®) use

An EpiPen® can be used by anyone in an emergency, including people without any training. Instructions are displayed on each device. A general use EpiPen® may be used for any child, student, staff member or visitor attending the school, preschool or care service.  

All preschools and schools must have one clearly labelled general use adrenaline autoinjector that has not been prescribed to a child or young person. 

  • Preschools must have one general use 0.15mg adrenaline autoinjector (eg EpiPen®Jr) 
  • Schools must have one general use 0.3mg adrenaline autoinjector (eg EpiPen®). 

Education and care services must also:

Emergency care and first aid procedures

All education and care staff must provide first aid measures following any ASCIA action plan or health support agreement and contacting emergency services if needed.

Education and care staff must also complete a medical advice form for anaphylaxis and severe allergies (DOC 210 KB) and forward it to the parent or legal guardian when symptoms and management of symptoms following a reaction differ from ASCIA action plan and health support agreement. 

First aid for mild to moderate allergic reaction

When a child or student experiences a moderate allergic reaction, education and care staff must:

  1. for insect allergy – flick out sting if visible and possible
  2. for tick allergy – freeze dry tick and allow to drop off
  3. stay with person and call for help
  4. locate adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector
  5. phone family or emergency contact. 

Mild to moderate allergic reactions (such as hives or swelling) may not always occur before anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction). 

First aid for anaphylaxis 

Always give adrenaline autoinjector first, if someone has severe and sudden breathing difficulty (including wheeze, persistent cough or hoarse voice), even if there are no skin symptoms. Then seek medical help. 

  1. Lay person flat
    Do not allow them to stand or walk. If unconscious, place in a recovery position. If breathing is difficult allow them to sit.
  2. give adrenaline autoinjector
  3. dial triple zero (000) and say ‘ambulance’
  4. phone family or emergency contact
  5. if there is no response after 5 minutes further adrenaline doses may be given 
  6. transfer person to hospital for at least 4 hours of observation.

If in doubt give adrenaline autoinjector. Commence CPR at any time if person is unresponsive and not breathing normally.

How to give an EpiPen®

  1. Form fist around EpiPen® and pull off blue safety release.
  2. Hold leg still and place orange end against outer mid-thigh (with or without clothing).
  3. Push down hard until a click is heard or felt and hold for 3 seconds and remove EpiPen®
  4. Call an ambulance (000).

Administration instructions are also clearly documented on the device. 

Training and education and care staff

Schools, preschools and other care services must have at least one designated first aider trained in in HLTAID004 Emergency First Aid Response in an Education and Care available at all times. This training includes anaphylaxis first aid.

Allergy awareness

The Be a M.A.T.E program is an educational awareness program designed to help parents and education staff to teach students and staff about how to help their friends who are at risk of anaphylaxis. The Be a M.A.T.E. resources help increase allergy awareness and understanding within the whole school community.

ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training 

ASCIA offers free anaphylaxis e-training for early childhood and school staff, which includes practical training in the use of an EpiPen®. 

Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS)

The Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) provide anaphylaxis education. Phone 1300 364 264 or email bookings.disabilities@rdns.org.au

How parents and caregivers help

Parents or guardians must:

  • notify the school, preschool or care service if their child has anaphylaxis or severe allergies
  • complete health care plans and agreements with their health care professionals and provide them to the school, preschool or care service
  • provide required medication to the school, preschool or care service.

If a medication agreement is in place, parents and caregivers must fulfil the roles and responsibilities outlined on the medication management and care page.

How health professionals help

Health professionals support schools, preschools, care services and families by helping to develop the care plan and any supporting medication and care agreements.

Contact

Disability and Complex Needs Team

Phone: 8226 0515
Email: education.health [at] sa.gov.au