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NYC preschools now directed to call 911 for children in distress after grilled cheese allergy death

The death of a 3-year-old boy with allergies who passed away after school staff allegedly gave him a grilled cheese has spurred a new requirement for city preschools: call 911 in the event of a student medical emergency.

It apparently took the death of Elijah Silvera to turn a common sense reaction into a formal policy: calling 911 – first.

As Silvera suffered from a serious allergic reaction, the staff at Harlem’s Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services chose to call his mother instead of 911.

Little Elijah lost valuable minutes – and, ultimately, his life.

Marie – a mother to twin boys who also suffer from a severe dairy allergy – knows the danger of not treating a reaction with the proper sense of urgency. She says the New York City Administration for Children’s Services newly announced decision to require 911 calls be made first is an obvious choice that is long overdue.

“There shouldn’t be any reason to be wasting time calling an emergency contact, or anything like that, because thirty seconds could save a life,” said Marie.

The new requirement will be that in addition to following whatever is required by the child’s individual medical plan in terms of contacting medical providers, contacting parents and so on, providers will be required to contact 911 in the event of a medical emergency, said ACS Commissioner David Hansell.

City health officials shut down Elijah’s school for also failing to follow his individual medical plan – that avoiding all dairy products – including a grilled cheese sandwich.

“The investigation of what happened is ongoing, and we will not rest until we get to the bottom of what happened to Elijah,” said Comm. Hansell.

But Marie says she would like the city to allow her children’s own ACS managed Head Start facility to keep an epi-pen on the premises, just in case.

Staff was on hand at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services Monday, but it remains closed. And city officials say things will stay that way until they are assured children will be safe under the staff’s care.