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Arizona lawmakers take important steps to help children in respiratory distress

(February 23, 2017)

The American Lung Association applauds the Arizona State House for passing House Bill 2208 on Tuesday, Feb. 21, which will protect students who go into respiratory distress while in school. The legislation, championed by Rep. Heather Carter, R-District 15, allows trained school staff to administer inhaler treatment to any child in an emergency situation, regardless if the child is known to have asthma or not.

“This is a critical bill that will protect all children from asthma episodes,” said JoAnna Strother, regional director of public policy for the American Lung Association of the Southwest. “Asthma episodes can be terrifying, as one gasps for breath, and they can be fatal. A quick-acting inhaler is needed to aid the child and help him or her return to normal breathing.”

According to the Arizona Asthma Coalition, a model program in Tucson schools noted that stock inhalers led to a 20 percent decrease in 911 calls and 40 percent reduction in EMS transports. More than 174,000 children in Arizona live with asthma, and the disease, which constricts the lungs and causes shortness of breath and wheezing, is related to more school absences than any other illness.

“This bill will save lives,” Strother said. “It has already demonstrated a positive effect in the Tucson model program and school districts across the state will be better equipped to handle students who have respiratory issues while at school.

“The House’s passage of this bill is the first step in protecting students against respiratory illnesses and the American Lung Association encourages the Senate to follow suit and allow trained professionals to administer inhalers.”

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