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Allergy sufferers urged to double protection

Charlie Fidelman, Canwest News Service, Montreal, Aug 2006

Canadians with severe allergies should be armed with two emergency injectors of adrenalin, not one, to avoid potentially deadly situations, Quebec coroner Jacques Ramsay warned Thursday.

The warning comes after the death of a retired doctor Pierre Drolet, 61, who had been stung on the face by a wasp on a Magog, Que. golf course 3 years ago (ed. 2003). Within minutes, Drolet's golf shots became erratic. He scrambled for an EpiPen in his golf bag, which he used, but the medication had expired five years earlier.

"Outdated medicine is better than nothing, but....he didn't get enough of the active ingredient," coroner Jacques Ramsay said Thursday. Drolet suffocated at the 16th hole. About 45 per cent of allergy sufferers are equipped with outdated EpiPens, Ramsay estimated.

He recommended patients carry two doses of EpiPen or the Twinject, which provides a double dose in the same applicator, and for manufacturers of auto-injectors to provide patients renewal notices of their products.

That was the first of several factors that contributed equally to Drolet's death, Ramsay's investigation concluded. The ambulance driver got lost and had to stop for directions. With the delay, Drolet's golf partners called 911 again, frantic because the golfer had stopped breathing. In the confusion, a second ambulance was dispatched - but it was sent to the wrong golf club. By the time paramedics from the first ambulance got to the golf club, 13 minutes had elapsed. No one was around to guide the driver to Drolet's side, causing yet another delay. Drolet's wife jumped in a golf cart and went to get the paramedics. Their efforts to resuscitate Drolet failed.

"It must have been terrible waiting for the ambulance," Ramsay observed.

The coroner's recommendations call for computer-assisted dispatching at emergency centres as well as ambulances equipped with a global-positioning system that would show drivers where to go and the shortest routes available. He also called to Quebec's golf clubs to implement emergency procedures. Most clubs are far from city centres and the average age of players is more than 65.


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