Eric L. Caplan, MD, FACAAI, FAAP, grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo. His medical training took him east to Virginia, then Indiana and finally Georgia, but he always wanted to return home. He joined Colorado Springs Allergy & Asthma Clinic in 2004.
Now Dr. Caplan, board-certified in allergy/immunology and pediatrics, is giving back to his hometown as an Anaphylaxis Community Expert (ACE) volunteer.
“I care about the people here and I love to educate people about food allergies,” he says. “Being an ACE volunteer is the perfect way for me to help the community and increase anaphylaxis awareness.”
Last Oct. 18, Dr. Caplan gave five anaphylaxis education presentations to six schools in Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 – all in one day! He called it an anaphylaxis education marathon, and while he didn’t actually run 26.2 miles, he did train more than 200 school employees how to recognize and respond to an anaphylactic emergency.
“It’s very rewarding to be a part of a program that teaches people the facts about anaphylaxis, such as using epinephrine as the first line of treatment,” he says. “A lot of people still think they should use antihistamines – and that always surprises me. As ACE Team members, we have the opportunity to educate people and positively change behavior.”
Dr. Caplan delivered three additional ACE presentations last fall so that all school district employees had the required food allergy and anaphylaxis training. The District 12 school board honored Dr. Caplan with a certificate of appreciation.
At a school board meeting last December, Dr. Caplan presented an overview of ACE anaphylaxis training and he recommended that the board implement a district-wide epinephrine storage policy. A consistent storage policy would improve accessibility and eliminate delays in administering this potentially life-saving medication.
The school board agreed, and promptly voted to establish a district-wide policy. As of late March, the board was finalizing the new policy.
Dr. Caplan called his anaphylaxis education marathon an invigorating experience – one worth sharing with other ACE teams across the country. He credited District 12 elementary school nurse Kimberly Nowland, RN, BSN, for helping to schedule and manage logistics for the five presentations.
“I trained for the marathon by giving the ACE presentation to my three children at home,” Dr. Caplan said, “so my vocal cords were in tip-top shape. I ended up exhausted at the end of the day and a little hoarse, but nothing that some hot chocolate with the kids couldn’t fix. They earned it after listening to me all week!”
ACEs is a national, award-winning education, advocacy and outreach partnership program developed and hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, sponsored by Mylan Specialty, LP.