Incidents of extreme allergic reactions have risen ten to twenty percent over the past couple of decades, according to Dr. Barry Geller, chair of the Emergency Medicine Department at Phelps Hospital Northwell Health. In Tarrytown alone, police and EMTs are faced with about a dozen such incidents every year. For Police Chief John Barbelet, the issue is personal: his 18-year-old daughter lives with a severe nut allergy that has twice put her in serious jeopardy—which is why the chief was one of the first in New York State to take advantage of a change in State law, made only last December, that makes it legal for police officers to carry a supply of EpiPens used to treat individuals felled by allergic shock.
EpiPen kits, containing two different doses, one for adults, the other for juniors, are now being carried in the medical bags of four Tarrytown Police patrol cars, thanks to Phelps, which donated the epinephrine injectors to the force. Officers are being trained to recognize the symptoms and use the devices—just as they are Narcan, the nasal spray dispensers of naloxone that reverses opioid overdoses.