Devastated parents in Texas are dealing with the tragic and senseless death of their 13-year-old son. The middle school football player died four days after suffering an allergic reaction to ant bites while playing on the field.
Cameron Espinosa was having fun and competing in a football game at Haas Middle School in Corpus Christi last Wednesday when he noticed the ants crawling near him during halftime. He yelled, "Ants! Ants!" The teen immediately collapsed to the ground and was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on Sunday.
According to the school's principal, the football coach told the young boy to "get a water bottle and spray yourself off," which leads me to wonder if he was even aware the child was severely allergic to ants. And if he were aware of his allergies, why wasn't he trained to help the child?
To the school's credit, most District members appear to be taking responsibility for this tragedy or, at the very least, admitting the school could have done more to protect Cameron. One school board member and former baseball coach even said he has personally found more than 20 ant piles on the field. Were Cameron's parents made aware of this fact? Because I can tell you that as a parent -- as overbearing as this may make me sound -- this alone may have made me think twice before allowing my son to play football at the school.
We don't know for sure whether the football coach and other staff members involved in the extracurricular activity knew about Cameron's allergies, but his mother, Josephine Limone, seems to think so. She has told reporters that having more trained personnel on the field, or even something as simple as an EpiPen, could have saved her son's life. And she's right.
As a former teacher, I can say with certainty that our school's nurse held on to children's EpiPens throughout the day. Several teachers were also trained each year on how to use the EpiPen in case an emergency occurred. I assumed coaches, who spend a great deal of time around these students, were also aware of their students' allergies and how to help treat them -- but now I'm questioning whether this is true. It's devastating to think that these parents are mourning the loss of their son, and there's no question the football coach and other school personnel are heartbroken, as well.
I hope the one good thing to come out of this is that schools become more aware of how important it is to train all staff members, including coaches, on how to use EpiPens and spot allergic reactions.
Do you feel confident that your child's school is equipped to deal with allergies?
Image via Aldo Cauchi Savona/Flickr