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From EpiPens to syringes: Syracuse Fire Dept. one of many NY agencies making the switch

Tom Magnarelli
The Check & Inject NY epinephrine kit.

The Syracuse Fire Department is making a change from using EpiPen auto-injectors to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. More than 460 agencies statewide are participating in the Check & Inject NY training program to use syringes rather than the EpiPens.

Emergency medical technicians will now draw out the drug and inject it rather than using the EpiPens which are spring-loaded injection tools. Lt. Brian Falise of the Syracuse Fire Department said the reason for the switch is because there has been a steady increase in the price of EpiPens over the past few years.

“Where I was paying $600 dollars per bag, all of a sudden I was only paying $75 per bag," Falise said. "Huge difference, it was a no-brainer.”

Medical bags are in more than 40 Syracuse Fire Department vehicles.

“Every engine, every mini (pumper), every truck, the rescue company, the squad, we even have it on the boat,” Falise said.

Falise said the epinephrine kits administer the same dose and in the same place as EpiPens.

“If anything better because now we actually see the medicine going in," Falise said. "To me, it is more of a legitimate verification that they got all of the medicine they needed."

And while using the medicine is rare, Felice said it is still needed a couple of times a year, most recently for a police officer having an allergic reaction to a bee sting less than two weeks ago.

"You never know the one time you're going to need that," Falise said. "It's important for  us to carry."

The Oswego Fire Department has been using epinephrine syringes rather than EpiPens for years for the same financial reason.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.