Revamped Annie LeGere Law could equip cops with EpiPens as intended

 
 
Updated 5/23/2018 4:24 PM
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  • Shelly LeGere, left, appeared with state Sen. Chris Nybo at an Illinois Senate committee meeting in April 2016 to testify for the Annie LeGere Law. Nybo now is sponsoring an amendment to the law that will encourage medical professionals to participate in the initiative to equip police officers with EpiPens.

    Shelly LeGere, left, appeared with state Sen. Chris Nybo at an Illinois Senate committee meeting in April 2016 to testify for the Annie LeGere Law. Nybo now is sponsoring an amendment to the law that will encourage medical professionals to participate in the initiative to equip police officers with EpiPens. Courtesy of Chris Nybo

  • Annie LeGere

    Annie LeGere

Since her 13-year-old daughter, Annie, died from an allergic reaction in 2015, Shelly LeGere has led a push to equip police officers throughout Illinois with EpiPens that could save others.

The Elmhurst resident even saw the passage of a state law meant to make the devices readily available to police. That law -- called the Annie LeGere Law -- authorizes police to administer EpiPens during allergy-related emergencies and waives liability for the officers and their municipalities.

But because the law doesn't specifically waive liability for the doctors who write prescriptions for the devices, only one department -- the DuPage County sheriff's office -- is known to use them.

That soon could change.

An amendment to extend legal immunities to doctors who prescribe EpiPens for use by police was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Illinois House. The state Senate approved the amendment in February. Now it just needs Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature to be enacted.

"The minute I heard, I was ecstatic," Shelly LeGere said Wednesday. "It's been such a long two and a half years. It's almost three years since Annie passed. I thought we would have EpiPens in the hands of all the police officers by now."

The push to equip officers with EpiPens came after Annie died on Aug. 26, 2015, from an allergic reaction while at a sleepover.

Police arrived before paramedics but weren't equipped to deal with Annie's medical issues. By the time paramedics reached the scene and rushed Annie to the hospital, precious minutes were lost and she died a week later.

The Annie LeGere Law was signed by Rauner on Aug. 5, 2016. At the time, no one anticipated the liability issue, said Republican state Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst, who co-sponsored the bill with Democratic state Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg.

"As we were moving, we just did not include a provision dealing with health care provider liability," Nybo said. "It became a big issue."

The Elmhurst Police Department, for example, has budgeted for EpiPens and extensive device training. But health providers need more assurance before issuing the prescriptions and signing off on the training programs, Nybo said.

He said he believes the amendment he sponsored -- Senate Bill 2226 -- will give doctors the coverage they need to join the initiative and help with its implementation.

Annie's mother agrees.

"I am so confident that we're going to move forward," said Shelly LeGere, who started the Annie LeGere Foundation, AmazingAnnie.org, which promotes allergy awareness and research and supports training first responders and school staff members in the use of EpiPens.

"There are so many municipalities that are on board with us," she said. "All they are waiting for is to get that prescription signed."

Rauner will have 60 days to sign Senate Bill 2226 once it reaches his desk. Shelly LeGere and Nybo said they believe the governor will sign it.

"The hope is to give communities an additional resource to keep their residents safe," Nybo said. "In this instance, it's keeping residents safe from very severe allergic reactions, particularly allergic reactions for people who don't know they have allergies."

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