Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., which would authorize school bus drivers to administer epinephrine in emergency situations, passed the New Jersey Senate today.

“We allow parents at home and nurses at school to administer an EpiPen, but state law doesn’t address what happens if the student is on a bus going from home to school,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Since there’s no negative effect suffered by administering the drug, it’s common sense that we should allow a bus driver to do so in emergencies.”

The bill, S-1960, would authorize a board of education or a nonpublic school to enact policies that allow the emergency administration of epinephrine to a student by a school bus driver, provided that certain authorization are on file with the school and that the driver is properly trained in the administration of the drug. The bill would also waive the liability of a school bus driver and company, as well as the school, when the drug is administered in good faith. Similar legislation has been enacted in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

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Epinephrine, administered through an EpiPen, is used to treat anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction which causes the tightening of airways. In schools, such reactions often occur from food allergies or bee stings. While state law already authorizes school nurses to inject the drug, there is no similar provision authorizing the treatment of a student while on school transportation.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 34-0, and next heads to the Assembly for further consideration.