ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A new law goes into effect Wednesday that will help some kids – and their parents – breathe easier.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the law allows children to bring asthma-controlling nebulizers to after-school functions and sports fields.

Harrison Selnick, 7, suffers from asthma and knows when he needs help fast.

“You cough a whole lot… and it’s very, very hard to breathe,” he said.

Doctors at Strauss Allergy & Asthma on Long Island taught Harrison what to do. Medicine opens up his airways — delivered right to his lungs from the mist of a nebulizer.

“It puts in special medicine for you that helps you breathe,” Harrison said.

The portable machine saves lives, and yet, Harrison is not allowed to bring one where he may need it most — on school soccer fields.

That now changes. A new law in New York state allows children with asthma to bring their own nebulizer to school and athletic fields-and administer it themselves.

It took years of lobbying by Dr. Harvey Miller, a specialist who has seen tragedy on fields — with children waiting for an ambulance and nebulizers locked away behind closed school doors.

“They’re allowed to use it, and they can carry their nebulizer on the athletic field,” Miller said. “I think this is what is so-called no-brainer.”

State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) sponsored the legislation — akin to having life0saving defibrillators on school fields.

“This is the next step, and I believe it’s more likely that a child would have an asthma attack than a cardiac arrest,” Boyle said.

Next up will be legislation to allow schools to buy their own nebulizers so one is always on hand.

Requiring nebulizers in school has met with resistance because of liability concerns and cost. But Miller said cost need not be a concern.

“You can buy a nebulizer for anywhere from $60 to $150,” Miller said. “You can actually, in my opinioin, finance that with a bake sale.”

Miller said the money does not represent a big investment when it comes to saving a life. He thinks everyone one will breathe easier if every school has a nebulizer.

An estimated 7 million children nationwide have asthma, and 5,000 people — many of them children — die annually from asthma.


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