RICHMOND (WRIC)—In an effort to save lives, lawmakers are pushing for restaurants to house and administer EpiPens, auto-injectors that help those suffering from life-threatening allergic reactions.
The bill would authorize any employee at a restaurant to have and administer an EpiPen if they're trained. Some say with the high potential of customers having an allergic reaction to food, this could be a life saver.
Kia Symonds says she was eating at one of her favorite restaurants when she went to the bathroom and started to feel weak.
"My tongue began to swell, my lips began to swell, and I could feel myself experiencing some respiratory distress," Symonds said. "I was in trouble."
She was able to make it back into the restaurant and ask the staff to call 911.
"For the restaurant management and staff that were there, they were helpless," Symonds said. "They wanted to help me, but there was nothing they could do."
Symonds was having an allergic reaction. Emergency responders used an EpiPen, and she immediately started to feel better.
Now, a bill aims to give restaurants the ability to have and administer EpiPens, should a customer have an allergic reaction.
"I'm fine with it, because you have potentially a life-saving event that's gonna occur," said Al Coleman of Big Al's Sports Bar in Richmond.
Coleman says he believes having an EpiPen is a good idea; he's had a number of customers with food allergies ask him about the restaurant's food.
"Is it peanut oil? Is it vegetable oil? Is [there] crab meat?" Coleman said. "They might want to know about that, or the shrimp, that type of thing."
Coleman says the cost of the EpiPen and training staff would be minimal compared to the cost of saving a life.
"It could be you," Symonds said. "It could be your loved one, and at the end of the day, that's what it's about—doing your best to help someone."
This isn't the first time lawmakers have tackled legislation regarding EpiPens. After the death of Chesterfield County student Amarria Johnson, a new state law was put in place requiring all schools in Virginia to stock at least two doses of the drug.
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