In the realm of education, where the focus often revolves around nurturing young minds and fostering growth, a unique non-profit organization has emerged as a crucial player in ensuring the safety and well-being of students. Code Ana, founded by Dr. Alice Hoyt, stands as a beacon for medical emergency response training, particularly in cases of anaphylaxis and sudden cardiac arrest. This national organization has become a vital resource for schools, childcare centers, businesses, and various organizations, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to address medical emergencies promptly and effectively.
Most state laws require schools to have medical emergency response plans, but limited resources exist that are truly step-by-step guides. At Code Ana, the team believes that schools don’t need complex, time-consuming approaches to medical emergency response planning; they need a simple and effective guide.
Thirty-seven percent of children have some form of a chronic medical condition, whether it be a food allergy, diabetes, asthma, or something else. The heart of Code Ana’s mission lies in bridging the gap within medical emergency preparedness for educational settings. Dr. Hoyt outlines their comprehensive approach, saying, “We empower teachers to respond appropriately, providing training on anaphylaxis, food allergies, and the use of epinephrine auto-injectors.”
Sarah Jane Lowery, the program director of Code Ana, sheds light on the organization’s day-to-day operations and the pivotal nature of their work. She handles everything from responding to emails and addressing technical issues to overseeing larger-scale program development. Together, Lowery and Dr. Hoyt create the dynamic, driving duo behind this organization.
Reflecting on its origin, Dr. Hoyt recalled an incident during her allergy fellowship when a high school reached out for help with an epinephrine auto-injector. This led to the realization that schools not only needed the tools, but they also needed the proper training to respond to medical emergencies. Over time, Code Ana expanded its reach, providing training to over 50,000 childcare professionals and collaborating with healthcare institutions like the Cleveland Clinic.
“It’s the teachers that are the first responders,” she states. “Even though teachers don’t go to school to be doctors, they are there to help kids grow in their roles. And one way they can do that is by responding effectively whenever there is a medical issue.”
Dr. Hoyt also discussed Code Ana’s evolution, highlighting the addition of sudden cardiac arrest education to their programs and emphasizing its importance in Louisiana due to legislative changes. The organization’s growth is not only attributed to legislative collaborations but also to strategic partnerships and the dedication of its team. Dr. Hoyt praised Lowery’s role in fostering community relationships and navigating challenges, explaining, “Sarah Jane’s ability to very organically grow relationships with people and identify what their needs are… she’s always thinking two steps ahead.”
The organization’s impact extends beyond schools, with specialized training programs for babysitters and other caregivers too. In fact, the easiest way to get involved and support the mission of Code Ana is to participate in its courses and training programs. These programs are easily accessible through the Code Ana website and are either free or low-cost.
The Code Ana team, recognizing the unique challenges faced by rural communities, is actively involved in providing education and support to ensure that even small schools are prepared for medical emergencies. Lowery also discusses the additional barriers in rural areas, where access to healthcare professionals may be limited, making community effort crucial in ensuring the safety of children.
Code Ana’s journey from its inception to becoming a nationally recognized force in medical emergency response training is a testament to the commitment of its founders and the impact of its programs. As the organization continues to adapt and expand, it stands as a vital resource in safeguarding the well-being of students and communities across the country.
For more information on Code Ana, visit its website.