Man suffers severe reaction after wasp sting

PELHAM – Firefighters rescued a 43-year-old local man Friday, found at his home suffering from an extreme reaction to a yellow jacket sting.

The man, who was unaware that he was allergic to the insect venom, was already in severe anaphylactic shock when firefighters arrived to his Grandview Road home at about 12:15 p.m. and found him lying on his kitchen floor, his worried young son at his side, Pelham firefighter Robert Horne said.

Horne could not release the man’s name.

“He was in bad shape,” Horne said, explaining that the man’s airways had closed, he had no palpable blood pressure or radial pulse and was close to death.

“He had very, very little time,” Horne said, adding that once stung, such a severe reaction typically happens within seconds.

While some people experience allergic reactions that include hives, itching and other mild symptoms, Horne said an anaphylactic shock reaction is the most severe of the allergy symptoms that can kill a person within minutes of introduction of the offending substance to the body.

Horne, also a medic, said it is not uncommon for a person allergic to bee or wasp venom or other substances to be unaware of their allergy because often people do not have such serious reactions until the second, third or even fourth time of being exposed.

The man, who had been working in his yard when he was stung on the leg, saved his own life by calling or having someone call 911 immediately after feeling the symptoms, Horne said.

“He knew something was wrong,” Horne said, but added that he didn’t think the man was aware that he could have died.

Although he was conscious and talking to 911 operators when firefighters arrived, Horne said the man fainted once while the rescue crew attended to him.

The man’s heart rate had slowed to 38 beats per minute, he was sweating profusely and had broken out in a full body rash, Horne said.

The man’s son, who Horne said looked to be about 8-years-old, was “holding it together,” pretty well as firefighters began working on his dad.

“He got a little scared early on so we had to calm him down a bit,” Horne said, explaining that he had the boy hold an IV bag to engage him in helping his dad.

The man was taken to Lowell (Mass.) General Hospital, and while Horne could not give a condition, he said the man should recover.

“With proper treatment, these things usually turn out OK,” he said.