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He knows that one of the two teachers in charge at the daycare claims to have pointed out to Ayotte red blotches on Megann’s face (the suggestion is that these might be allergic hives as she came through the door). But he finds those claims, which Megann’s mother disputes, self-serving and wrong.
Around 6:20 p.m., the coroner writes that the little girl began to cry and ask for her father. Unable to calm her, the teachers sat her down with the other children to watch a movie. She began to have breathing problems and called out for her mother. Around 6:40 – 25 minutes after Megann first began to cry – the teachers gave her two doses of Ventolin from her asthma inhaler. That didn’t work. About 20 minutes later, they brought her into an office to try to calm her but that didn’t work, either.
Five minutes later – about 45 minutes after the little girl began to show signs of distress – one of the teachers went to find her parents.
“She came into the classroom and said, ‘Excuse me, but I believe your daughter isn’t breathing,’” recalls Lefort. When the couple, who have been estranged since before their daughter was born, got to the office, Ayotte tried to give her another dose of Ventolin and cried out for someone to call 911.
Firefighters were first on the scene and began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. But, as the coroner noted, their pediatric ventilator wasn’t working; although paramedics managed to revive her enough to rush her to the emergency department of a local hospital, little Megann was pronounced dead at 8:20 p.m.
The tragedy raises all sorts of questions, including why 911 wasn’t called earlier and whether or not there was an epinephrine auto-injector on site (Lefort says there was) in case the breathing issues the girl was having were a sign of anaphylaxis, related to the food she’d eaten. Nor is it clear what kind of training and reinforcement staff at Sainte-Germaine-Cousin school have had to deal with such emergencies.
Right now, it doesn’t look like there are to be any easy answers. School principal Caroline Petrucci said she cannot comment on the case and referred Allergic Living to Christiane St. Onge, an official with the local school board.
For her part, St. Onge maintains that no definitive reason was given for Megann’s death, despite the coroner’s conclusion that it was from a severe anaphylactic and/or asthmatic reaction. She noted that the school was officially closed for the night, that its daycare had been specially opened to accommodate parents who couldn’t afford child care during the parent-teacher meetings.
“The parents were on the premises,” she said. “They made the decisions. (Megann’s care) was not managed by the school.”
When it was pointed out that the timeline in the coroner’s report doesn’t have Lefort and Ayotte being informed of their daughter’s situation until about 40 minutes have passed, she repeated that they were on the premises.
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