The EpiPen®, the medicine in which is called adrenaline. Adrenaline acts quickly to control the symptoms of anaphylaxis, helping to keep you out of danger. It narrows the blood vessels so that blood pressure can start to return to normal and also relaxes the lungs and throat so you can breathe more easily.
This is the latest version of the EpiPen®, there was an earlier type that was round rather than oval. As well as a different design, the guidance has changed on how to use the EpiPen, the main difference being that now you don’t need to leave it in so long, nor rub the area after delivering the injection.
The EpiPen Auto-Injector is a very common unit on the market. This one here is a training unit, simply because we don’t want to be using a live unit for this demonstration. The actual units themselves come in a carrying case to keep them safe. At all times you must keep your auto-injector in its case because you don’t want any problems with the end being accidentally knocked off, creating a danger. With all auto-injectors, this one’s the same as all of the others, you’ve got instructions down the front here. It’s always worth making sure you read them, particularly if you’re helping somebody else with their auto-injector.
Even if you already know, quickly read the instructions again, just so that you can remind yourself exactly what’s what. The needle is at this end, and at this end is the safety cap. So the first thing we’re doing once we’ve read the instructions down the front is to grip it firmly in your hand and remove the blue cap. That’s just the safety cap, so once that cap’s removed the unit is live. If for any reason you’ve taken the cap off and then you don’t use it, you can just take the cap and put it back in place.
But be very careful when the cap’s off because if you push this down at this end it will fire the drug. And if you’re a first aider and you put it onto your hand, there’s a chance that you can accidentally inject yourself.
To remove the EpiPen® from the carry case, flip open the lid, tip the carry case and slide the EpiPen® out.
Lie down with your legs slightly elevated to keep your blood flowing or sit up if breathing is difficult.
Once you’ve removed the cap, we gently swing the unit into the upper thigh from about 10cm away.
There is no need to remove clothing to use your EpiPen®, but do make sure the orange end will not hit any buckles, zips, buttons or thick seams on your clothes.
Once it hits the thigh we hold it in place for 3seconds and then remove it. Stay lying down or seated and have someone stay with you until you have been assessed by a paramedic. Unconscious patients should be placed in the recovery position.
Once the unit has been activated, you will see the needle cover here covering over the needle so you would be safe to actually touch this. But we then recommend you dispose of this correctly. And with any anaphylactic emergency, you need to make sure that you’ve called the emergency services. It’s always a good idea to give the unit to the emergency services so they can then dispose of them correctly. And also, they know exactly what has been given to the patient. If you do end up giving a second dose, then follow exactly the same rules, but make sure that both units are then given to the emergency services.