Have you ever been faced with a situation where you had to make a life or death decision knowing that it could jam up your license or even cause you to lose them?
Last year, a school nurse in East Moline faced a moral dilemma when a diabetic student lost consciousness in her office. Now she’s trying to make sure no other nurse has to face the same tough choice.
A Dangerous Situation
Jennifer Jacobs, a registered nurse who had spent seventeen of her thirty-year career and Glenview Middle School in East Moline, Illinois, arrived in her office after her lunch break to find her assistant helping a type 1 diabetic student.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, autoimmune disease that has no cure.
The student in Jacob’s office was experiencing hypoglycemia, and despite many snacks, her blood continued to drop.
At one point, the student fell to the floor and went unconscious. Jacobs told the Tri-States Public Radio, “[She] wasn’t seizing but was tremoring, and her eyes were rolling back in her head…”
Jacobs gave a dose of glucose gel, but the meds just slid out of the student’s mouth in a stream of drool. The student was crashing.
“It was beyond anything we could do,” Jacob says.
Well, it was beyond anything they could do legally. But Jacobs and her assistant knew there was one more medication, explicitly made for such emergencies, right there within reach.
It’s a hormone called glucagon. Once injected, it can help a diabetic recover from a crash, by stimulating the release of stored glucose.
The problem was: The only glucagon kit in the office belonged to another diabetic student. Could they use that glucagon to treat this student? To Jacobs, that wasn’t the right question.
Jacobs had to make a quick decision. Did she risk her career and use another student’s prescribed glucagon on the student in front of her?
With her experience, she knew if she didn’t administer the medication, the student could die. It turns out, and her decision likely saved the girl’s life.
On the way to the hospital, paramedics administered the second glucagon because one wasn’t enough. If Jacobs wouldn’t have administered the first glucagon, the student may have lost her life.
A Difference Made
Due to Jacob’s split-second decision, the student didn’t die and recovered from the incident. But for her, that wasn’t good enough.
She shouldn’t have to break school rules to save a student’s life, and no one should. She contacted her state representative, asking him to make a significant change in policy.
What if schools could purchase and keep glucagon on hand for emergencies? Rep. Michael Halpin agreed, and the proposed bill passed in the House and is now headed for the Senate, with unanimous support.
Jacobs shared that if schools can keep Narcan on hand for a drug overdose, inhalers for asthmatic students, and an EpiPen for students with severe allergies, why can’t schools keep a glucagon on-hand as well?