Police Reaction To Allergic Reaction Questioned

Handcuffed, but never arrested, an Omaha man claims he could have died in police custody from a severe allergy attack because officers didn't believe him.

“Just like this I was cuffed.” Sitting cuffed on the pavement, Dominic Wiederin said he wasn't faking it. “I'm coughing quite a bit ‘cause I'm having trouble getting air.”

While detained for acting suspicious around a Walgreens store, Dominic suffered anaphylaxis, a life-threatening type of allergic reaction due to a peanut allergy and claims he asked an officer for his EpiPen, a device used to inject a measured dose of epinephrine to treat acute allergic reactions. “They said I'm not going to get it and the ambulance will be here.”

Dominic was taken to the hospital “code three,” defined as a serious, life-threatening condition needing immediate medical attention. “You don't wait and say well, lets take him to the emergency room and see what we can do,” said Dr. Linda Ford at the Asthma & Allergy Center. “That's appropriate action, but it may be too late of an action.”

Dominic’s mother said police should have EpiPen training. “Teachers and nurses at schools know how to use these, so should law enforcement because sometimes you don't have five minutes for a squad to come,” said Teresa Wiederin.

Allergy experts provide training EpiPens. You pull off the cap, go down to your thigh and push for 10 seconds, right through your clothing.

Dominic tried to use his brother’s debit card in the store, but officers took the handcuffs off him in the rescue squad and never arrested him. “It could have been a lot worse than what had happened because if I would have died from an anaphylaxic reaction it would have been on them.”

Dominic doesn't know what triggered his peanut allergy, but hopes police will react differently to that kind of reaction.

OPD said officers may not be trained specifically on EpiPens, but they are prepared to handle life-threatening situations. The officer determined Dominic's condition didn't appear life threatening. In this case it was decided the best care would come from a medic.

Police said Dominic didn't have any identification on him. The EpiPen was being carried in his friend's backpack that also contained illegal pills and a small amount of marijuana.

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