Revised Annie LeGere Law will actually get lifesaving EpiPens in cops' hands now

 
 
Updated 7/31/2018 7:19 PM
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  • Annie LeGere

    Annie LeGere

  • Shelly LeGere of Elmhurst, at podium, spearheaded the push to allow police officers across the state to use lifesaving EpiPens. With revised legislation now in place, she says, "My job is to go to those municipalities and spread the word and offer my assistance."

      Shelly LeGere of Elmhurst, at podium, spearheaded the push to allow police officers across the state to use lifesaving EpiPens. With revised legislation now in place, she says, "My job is to go to those municipalities and spread the word and offer my assistance." Robert Sanchez | Staff Photographer

  • Shelly LeGere and state Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst were two of the driving forces behind the passage and recent revision of the Annie LeGere Law.

      Shelly LeGere and state Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst were two of the driving forces behind the passage and recent revision of the Annie LeGere Law. Robert Sanchez | Staff Photographer

Shelly LeGere has been pushing for police officers to be equipped with EpiPens since her 13-year-old daughter, Annie, died from an allergic reaction in 2015.

On Tuesday, the Elmhurst mom's efforts received a boost when Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an amendment extending legal immunities to doctors who prescribe the lifesaving devices to police officers in Illinois.

"I'm just forever grateful," Shelly LeGere said after Rauner signed the legislation at Elmhurst City Hall. "It seems like it's been a really long time."

The Annie LeGere Law, which took effect in January 2017, authorizes police throughout the state to administer EpiPens during allergy-related emergencies and waives liability for the officers and their municipalities.

But because the law didn'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.

So state Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst sponsored the amendment to extend legal immunities to doctors.

"Now we can move forward" Shelly LeGere said. "Elmhurst can carry. The whole state of Illinois can carry if they want. My job is to go to those municipalities and spread the word and offer my assistance."

The effort to equip officers with EpiPens came after Shelly LeGere's 13-year-old daughter, 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.

"Annie had such a life to live," said Cathryn Hanson, one of Annie's close friends. "She never got her driver's license, never got to attend her first day of high school.

"What happened to Annie that night should never happen to anyone ever again," the 16-year-old Elmhurst resident said.

The Annie LeGere Law originally was signed by Rauner on Aug. 5, 2016.

At the time, no one anticipated the liability issue. Nybo said it ended up becoming "an obstacle" for police departments that wanted to equip officers with EpiPens.

The amendment Nybo sponsored -- Senate Bill 2226 -- gives doctors the coverage they need to join the initiative and help with its implementation.

Nybo said DuPage County Board member Pete DiCianni was "instrumental" in getting the amendment passed.

"This tool will allow local government to do its job," said DiCianni, an Elmhurst Republican. "This tool will allow police officers, who are 99 percent of the time the first on the scene, to administer a vital drug that can save a life."

The Elmhurst Police Department, which has budgeted for EpiPens and trained officers to use the devices, is the first to benefit from the updated law.

A doctor was at city hall Tuesday to sign a prescription for Elmhurst after Rauner signed the amendment.

"The Elmhurst Police Department will be the first police agency in Illinois to use this updated act to partner with a community physician to implement this lifesaving epinephrine program locally," Deputy Police Chief Mike McLean said.

In addition to advocating for legislation, Shelly LeGere started the Annie LeGere Foundation, AmazingAnnie.org, to promote allergy awareness and research and support training first responders and school staff members in the use of EpiPens.

"There's nothing that I can do today ... to change what has happened," she said. "But my goal is to change what can happen in the future."

Rauner thanked the LeGere family for their efforts.

"We are so sorry for your loss," Rauner said. "But every day we can cherish Annie's memory through this good work. Every life we save -- and there will be many lives we save -- through this legislation ... will be due to Annie and to you."

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