Mother’s efforts mean EMS personnel can now give potentially life-saving shot

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- When you have an illness or injury, the stress hormone, cortisol, helps you survive. Some people don't make that hormone. They need a shot in a crisis. The efforts of one Overland Park mom mean that Johnson County emergency personnel are now able to give that shot.

Cambria Lord's body doesn't produce the stress hormone. The rare condition is called adrenal insufficiency. The six-year-old takes pills for it, but her mom says if she has an injury or other crisis, she needs a steroid shot within 30 minutes. Cambria and her parents keep vials with them. But when we met the family two years ago, her mom still had a concern.

"The downside is if the EMT would get there and I would be unable to administer the shot, if I were incapacitated in a car accident, they can't administer it," Eden Lord said.

Now it's a different story. Lord contacted Johnson County EMS. So did a handful of other parents. That led to a study of the issue which led to a new protocol. Ambulance personnel anywhere in the county will be able to administer the shot after first consulting a doctor in the emergency room.

"We'd say we have this patient here that has adrenal insufficiency. We have their steroid dose. Is it okay if we administer their stress dose to them right now? Our crews would draw that up and administer the steroid," said Dr. Ryan Jacobsen, medical director of Johnson County EMS.

Lord also hoped ambulances would carry the steroid shot. It's not among the medicines on board now. Dr. Jacobsen said their study found that wouldn't be feasible.

"It would generally expire without ever being used and just have to be replaced. We'd just be wasting medicines," he said.

Lord said the new protocol gives her a sense of relief.

"This is life and death for adrenal insufficiency patients," she said.

But she's not stopping.

"No, not at all. That wouldn't be us," she said.

Later this month, she'll go to Washington, D.C. to advocate for EMS personnel nationwide to be able to administer the shot.

Dr. Jacobsen said anyone with adrenal insufficiency in the county should provide Johnson County EMS with the addresses where they are frequently. They can be tagged in the dispatch system so crews will know that someone at an address may have this problem. Call 913-826-1035 or email

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