Close Call: Lunch break triggers severe food allergy

Safety Alert Type: 
Williams Lake area
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Kennedy Forest & Safety Consultants
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A forestry worker was eating lunch in the area of Riske Creek, BC. While eating a can of cold Chunky Stew the worker started to feel the side of his neck swelling up and his hands got very itchy.

The worker recognized he may be having an allergic reaction but had never experienced symptoms this severe. The worker drove himself to a nearby store in a small First Nations community looking for Benadryl to ease the symptoms. The store did not have any but the worker eventually found a member of the small community who went home and got some Benadryl. The worker took two Benadryl tablets and the itching in his hands immediately subsided and the swelling in the neck seemed to have stopped.

The worker decided to drive the 40 kilometres to the hospital in Williams Lake. On the way, the worker started to experience swelling around his throat area and was having difficulty swallowing. The worker had a Satellite phone and called the nearest RCMP detachment who transferred his call to the local 911 ambulance service. The worker was worried about a total shut down of his airway and the ambulance was dispatched immediately to meet the worker.

The worker was pulled over with 4 way flashers on about 15 kilometers west of Williams Lake when the ambulance arrived. The worker was able to walk into the ambulance and was transported to Hospital for treatment.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Although the worker knew he had allergies to certain foods, he was always able to work through the symptoms without any issues and generally avoided those foods.
  • With the onset of the allergic reaction happening so quickly, the worker will carry a supply of Benadryl and purchase an Epi Pen to have in his First Aid kit.
  • The worker also should have had someone drive him to the hospital or stopped and waited on the highway after he made the call for help to Emergency Services. If his airway had closed and he became unconscious, he may have caused an accident or further injury.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Craig Kennedy at (250) 267-3722 or email: kennedysafety@gmail.com

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