Injury Response and First Aid
by Cassandra Pfeifer
The Sandner Group
Accidents happen. This is a phrase we hear innumerable times. School districts can do their absolute best to prevent accidents and injuries but must also remember that accidents can and will happen. Keeping this in mind will allow you to have a thorough response plan for accidents, particularly those that result in injuries. Injuries can happen anywhere on school property, and there may not always be time to bring a student or employee to the school nurse or wait for medical assistance to arrive. Therefore, it is imperative that districts prepare every area of their campuses – from the boiler room to the athletic fields – for a fast response to be implemented in the event of an injury.
All teaching staff and other employees who work closely with students should receive regular first aid training to keep up with current trends in medical response and first aid techniques. It is important to continually update first aid knowledge so that no staff member is left wondering what to do in any given emergency situation. There should also be numerous first aid kits throughout buildings, particularly in areas with a higher risk of injury, such as manual arts classrooms. First aid kits should contain enough materials to treat a variety of injuries as well as multiple individuals. The kits should include items like the following: adhesive tape, bandages in varying sizes, CPR breathing barrier, elastic bandages in varying sizes, eye bandages, gauze squares in varying sizes, ice bags or instant cold packs, non-latex disposable gloves, paper bags/cups/towels, plastic bags, roller bandages, rubbing alcohol, safety pins, saline solution, scissors, soap, splints, thermometer, triangle bandages and tweezers.
Staff should also be made aware of any individual student or employee with special medical needs such as asthma, diabetes or severe allergies. These individuals may have a specific medical plan that lists all treatments and medications they can and cannot have along with instructions regarding how to respond to a particular aspect of their condition. These plans must be kept on file and all staff working with that student or employee should be familiar with the important aspects of each person’s condition.
There are several steps to follow when responding to an accident that has resulted in an injury. The first step in any accident is to determine whether or not 911 should be called. This decision should be made immediately and without hesitation. Take fast note of any injuries and check whether the person is conscious, breathing, in a great deal of pain or bleeding excessively. Also, take note of any potential hazards that may be present as a result of the accident. Things like live electrical wires, gas leaks, hazardous material spills, fire, smoke or traffic create extremely unsafe areas, which necessitate the moving of injured parties and the securing of the accident site. This step should not take a lot of time as the immediate moments after an accident can be crucial, particularly if a serious injury has occurred.
Once the accident site has been secured, it is important to immediately address the needs of anyone who may be injured. 911 may still need to be called once you begin questioning the injured person and check the extent of their injuries. Instruct an available staff member or student to notify the school nurse and/or retrieve a first aid kit while you stay with the injured party. Ask the injured person a series of questions regarding the extent of their injuries and tend to their wounds as quickly as possible. If the injury is related to the head or back, contact the proper medical authorities, and do not move the injured person unless safety precautions dictate otherwise. Apply any first aid that is necessary to get the student or employee to the school nurse or medical facility. Do not provide any medications without express permission from a parent/guardian or medical professional. Once the injured party is in the hands of medical professionals, seek out witnesses to determine the exact cause of the accident as well as any pertinent information that may be useful to the school nurse or other medical professional.
After the accident site is cleared and all injuries addressed, be sure to fill out an accident report. These reports should include as much information as possible in order to keep a full record of the incident for future medical treatment as well as for future risk management purposes. Reports should include the name of the injured party, the type of injury sustained, the environment surrounding the accident, the time of the accident, any direct or indirect causes of the accident, witnesses of the accident, a brief description of what occurred, a description of the immediate response and any first aid given immediately following the accident. Our Loss Control Manual has a sample accident report that you can refer to when documenting accidents (Exhibit 19 of Chapter 9). Keep this report on file well after the incident as it can become a valuable asset for future risk management.
Accidents can happen anywhere at your district, and it’s imperative that all employees are prepared to respond to injuries that can arise during or immediately following an accident. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your loss control specialist at one of the numbers at the right.