A bill that allows state park rangers and forest rangers the option of carrying epinephrine injectors to counteract allergic reactions was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The bill comes as more people are expected to head to parks and preserves this summer in New York as pandemic restrictions are eased.
But with that increased foot traffic in parks also comes the potential for people to suffer from allergic reactions, often in areas where immediate medical help is not close by. The law approved by Cuomo will allow nearly 700 park rangers, park police and forest rangers who patorl more than 18 million acres of state land to carry the injectors, commonly referred to as EpiPens.
Allergic reactions can be deadly in some instances, and there was bipartisan support for the bill in the Legislature.
“Summer is upon us and it’s a great time to take advantage of all the wonderful parks and trails our state has to offer,” said Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who sponsored the bill with Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco. “While the great outdoors offers endless sources of exploration and adventure, it’s important to stay safe. An unexpected allergic reaction to food, bug bites and stings can happen and people out on the trail may need life-saving intervention. Ensuring our environmental professionals are authorized to carry and use EpiPens will save lives.”
Prior to the new law, EMTs, overnight and summer day camp workers, public and private school staff and workers at sports and entertainment venues could carry the injectors. Law enforcement and firefighters were added to the law in 2019.
“Independence Day weekend and the summer season is now upon us and after the overwhelming isolation New Yorkers have experienced during this pandemic, they are literally and figuratively ‘itching’ to get out and visit our campgrounds and state parks to recreate. Hikers, campers, swimmers, hunters, and picnickers are out in force,” Tedisco said. “Unfortunately, they’ll be bites and allergic reactions. That’s why we need our park rangers, forest rangers and environmental conservation police officers to be able to carry life-saving EpiPens to help respond to a severe allergic reaction.”