CHARLESTON, W.Va.  County school boards in West Virginia will have the option to decide if they want school bus drivers to carry and administer epinephrine, according to a new law.

Lawmakers passed H.B. 2373 in the 2017 Regular Legislative Session to allow school bus drivers to be equipped with epinephrine auto injectors, such as Mylan’s EpiPens. The life-saving drug is used to treat someone who has a severe allergic reaction.

Implementation will vary county by county.

“All counties can choose to adopt it or none, so basically I’m sure they’re going to look at their needs, especially on buses and how many students have epinephrine auto injectors and whether or not they adopt such policy,” said Rebecca King, state school nurse consultant for the West Virginia Department of Education.

The law took affect last week. King said the goal is for schools to be prepared in emergency situations.

“It’s not removing all the allergen. It’s making sure the staff is trained and the staff is ready to respond,” she said.

Bus drivers, teachers and other school staff members will be trained on how to administer the drug if their respective school boards choose to implement the law.

“The school nurse will train them and they get trained every two years, according to policy. We fall back to state law as well and it requires every two years training,” King said.

Having the drug readily available in a rural state like West Virginia will help if an ambulance can’t reach a student in time, King said.

“Having it ready to go and not having to wait on an ambulance with anaphylactic shock – their airway closes and if you lose oxygen within four minutes, you can have brain damage,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s mainly prevention.”

School districts plan to evaluate each individual student case and then determine whether to equip drivers with the drug.