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First Aid: Allergic Reactions / Using an EPI Pen

Allergic Reactions


Allergic reactions can range from minor to life threatening. Many people have allergies to environmental substances, bee stings, and foods (such as peanuts). All allergic reactions have the potential to become life threatening. Signs of a serious allergic reaction include: red raised itchy skin, trouble breathing, swelling of the tongue and face, and loss of consciousness or altered mental status. If you believe someone is having a serious allergic reaction call 911 immediately, ask the patient if they have had this reaction in the past, and attempt to gain as much information as possible. Ask the patient if they have an EPI-Pen which can be used to help the victim. Be prepared to start the steps of CPR if needed. Gather as much information as possible to assist responding rescuers to help the victim.
Epinephrine Pen: Some states and organizations allow first aid rescuers to assist or administer an EPI-Pen to a person who is experiencing a severe allergic reaction. An EPI-Pen is a spring loaded device that delivers a low dosage of epinephrine which will help the victim’s condition from worsening until trained rescuers arrive.


To use an EPI-Pen remove the safety cap and follow the instructions printed on the EPI-Pen. As standard practice, never place your hand over either of the device to avoid getting stuck with the needle.



Grasp the EPI-Pen in the palm of one hand and press the injection end hard in to the victims thigh below the waist and above the knee. The device is designed to go through clothing and into the victims body. Hold the EPI-PEN in place for several seconds so that all the medication enters the victims body. Rub the area of the injection to speed the absorption into the body. Properly secure the device in a sharps container if available or in a location so that no other person gets stuck by the exposed needle. Be sure to give the used EPI-Pen to EMS personnel when they arrive. Note the time the injection was given and continue to monitor the victim.