Epipens Have Not “Saved” Four Lives in Mississauga | A Researched Analysis

A Researched Statistical Analysis of False Claims of Epipen Usage by the Mississauga Fire Department

***LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: letters@thebramptonguardian.com ***

To the Editor of the Brampton Guardian:

Re: Article – EpiPens on fire trucks have saved four lives, so far – March, 11, 2014

Mississauga Fire Training Officer Mr. Trevor Shea provides misleading statistics and inaccurate claims regarding anaphylactic cases in Mississauga (EpiPens on fire trucks have saved four lives, so far – March, 11, 2014).

Medical literature [ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4322510/]  reveals that between 1986 and 2011, Ontario averaged just over 2 Anaphylaxis deaths per year out of thousands. Mr. Shea claims that Mississauga would have recorded 4 deaths in just 10 months without Firefighters use of Epipens. Further that all four treatments saved all four persons is incredulous unless there was a 100% death rate from anaphylaxis  prior to the program.

He further claims that Fire Department Epipen program is “directly responsible for saving four lives”. Medical research does not support this which is why Sabrina’s Law was enacted in 2005, so teachers, camp counsellors and lifeguards can administer Epipens.  As firefighters have much the same first aid training as lifeguards this is a logical addition.  Early Epipen administration carries no risk and supports positive patient outcomes. Simultaneously, Emergency Medical Dispatchers instruct patients to self-administer their own EpiPens before the firefighters arrive.

Epipens should be publicly available like Defibrillators.  However, school boards or summer camps do not attempt self-promotional headlines with each use on a student or camper. Yet, there are far more teachers and general public who have provided an Epipen. Perhaps the City of Mississauga and Fire Department make an effort to acknowledge those individuals first before making sensational and factually incorrect headlines.


A study by Anaphylaxis Canada found only 32 food allergy related deaths in Ontario in the 15 year span from 1986-2000. Twenty of these were from peanuts and tree nuts, and only 6 occurred at a school or camp. That last number is the relevant one here, suggesting that the annual school day mortality rate across Ontario is about 0.4, or one death every 2.5 years. [Xu, Y. S., Kastner, M., Harada, L., Xu, A., Salter, J., & Waserman, S. (2014). Anaphylaxis-related deaths in Ontario: a retrospective review of cases from 1986 to 2011. Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology : Official Journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 10(1), 38. http://doi.org/10.1186/1710-1492-10-38]