State of Illinois First to Fund School Asthma Program – RESCUE Program Aims to Keep Kids with Asthma in School

September 5, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Respiratory Health Association (RHA) and Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) have launched the RESCUE Illinois Schools program. RESCUE, which stands for Resources for Every School Confronting Unexpected Emergencies, will serve over 3,000 schools in Illinois in its first year.

The purpose of the program is to provide asthma medication and training for schools to respond to asthma emergencies. Training will be provided to all Illinois school nurses and other school staff on how to respond to a student having an asthma episode during school hours. The goal is to keep students healthy, in class, and out of the emergency room.  While 17 states have laws allowing schools to provide ‘undesignated’ asthma medications during emergencies, Illinois is the first state to fund such an effort.

“We applaud the State of Illinois for prioritizing the health of school children and not allowing asthma to interrupt a child’s education,” said Joel Africk, RHA President & CEO. “This funding will help the thousands of Illinois students with asthma stay in school and take some of the burden off parents.”

“This is the very type of system change that positions Illinois to not only improve and save lives but also to be a clear leader in innovative student health solutions. We are grateful and honored to be a part of this work,” said Chris Martinez, Executive Director of Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America – MidStates Chapter.

A 2018 Illinois state law allows schools to keep their own supply of asthma rescue medications on hand for emergencies.  Previously, only individuals with an asthma diagnosis and prescriptions in their own name were permitted to obtain asthma rescue medications.

Asthma episodes are the number one reason for U.S. school absences because of a chronic disease. The CDC estimates that more than 4 million school-aged U.S. children have asthma. And yet, only 17 states allow schools (not just the students with asthma) to carry a supply of emergency asthma medicine at school.



About Respiratory Health Association

Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906, focusing on lung health and clean air issues. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. As a policy leader, we have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, smoke-free laws, Tobacco 21, and other tobacco product policies. RHA is dedicated to improving asthma management among children and their adult caregivers. Our school-based asthma management education programs are well-established and supported by research. To date, RHA has educated more than 14,000 students with asthma through Fight Asthma Now© and 30,000 adult caregivers through Asthma Management. For more information, visit


About Asthma and Allergy Foundation

Founded in 1953, AAFA is the oldest and largest non-profit patient organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions through research, education, advocacy, and support. AAFA offers extensive support for individuals and families affected by asthma and allergic diseases, such as food allergies and atopic dermatitis (eczema). Through its online patient support communities, network of local chapters and affiliated support groups, AAFA empowers patients and their families by providing practical, evidence-based information and community programs and services. AAFA is the only asthma and allergy patient advocacy group that is certified to meet the standards of excellence set by the National Health Council. For more information, visit: