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District clarifies claim about first-aid training

By David Limm on Jun 3, 2014 02:44 PM

The recent death of Andrew Jackson Elementary student Sebastian Gerena, 7, from a congenital heart condition has placed a spotlight on a cash-poor Philadelphia School District's capacity to respond to medical emergencies.

No school nurse was on duty at the time, and attention has turned to the District's policies and procedures for emergencies and whether they were carried out.

State guidelines for medical emergencies call for protocols to be in place for when situations that can be "reasonably anticipated" arise. That includes "identifying specially trained and designated individuals who, in addition to the nurse, will render first aid."

In responding to the incident at Jackson, District spokesperson Fernando Gallard at first said that the school nurse trains all staff in first-aid procedures as outlined in the MEH-50 flip chart posted in the nurse's office.

Comments on theNotebook story from educators and nurses said that it is not the case that all staff is trained in first aid. Generally, teachers said they received an explanation of the MEH-50 chart, but nothing as rigorous as what could be called training.

Asked to clarify the type and level of training school staff received, Gallard provided the following response.

"The nurse does not train people to perform first aid," said Gallard, who added that proper first-aid training would entail "a course provided by certified trainers, the result of which is that people become certified to perform first aid and, usually, CPR. The school nurses are not, as part of their job descriptions, qualified to do that, nor do they have the capacity to do it."

Nurses, Gallard maintained, train school staff in the use of the MEH-50 chart. "They call attention to it as the District's policy with respect to first aid."

Public outrage has centered on the lack of full-time nurses in schools resulting from successive years of budget cuts. Presently, 179 nurses cover more than 180,000 students at 214 District schools, along with some private and parochial schools.

The District's ratio of nurses to students falls between the maximum ratio mandated by state law (one nurse for every 1,500 students) and the number recommended by the National Association of School Nurses (one nurse for every 750 students).

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Comments (8)

Submitted by Skopp (not verified) on June 3, 2014 5:59 pm
I have been asking over and over for training and CPR training but apparently the cost is to high for the trainings. WTH, isn't a lift worth worthless paper??
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2014 5:31 pm
Thanks for the clarity. So the school nurses train the teachers how to read and flip a chart & the SDP thinks this makes our schools crisis ready. Exactly how much "training" is involved in flipping a chart & this makes us crisis ready...only in the School Dist of Philadelphia would a spokesperson give such a foolish clarification. News flash-- teachers can read & flip a chart without "training". As many educators stated there is no training. Notebook thanks for the follow up.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2014 6:26 pm
I checked with the RED CROSS for a training in CPR at the hospital closest to my home. The cost depending on cert for adults and kids and if you are getting recertified vs certified looks to be around $70-$110.00. I think most of us spend that much a week/every tow weeks on gas for our cars. It is doable, but the question is what will we and the SDP do? Linda K.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2014 6:12 pm
I hope the answer is "hire more qualified nurses". Teachers have more than enough responsibility.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2014 8:34 pm
First, no one trained us. Second, I am a teacher and not a NURSE!!!!!!!!
Submitted by aonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2014 9:16 pm
Nurse know that it is not possible to train an entire staff at the level that would make said staff able to respond appropriately to the variety of "first aid" situations that may come up. The school district has always rested on the notion that by telling the nurses to train the staff they were legally covering themselves. They could always accuse the nurse of not adequately training someone (i.e. to think like a nurse on their feet in any number of urgent scenarios that may develop.) Nurses create emergency plans yearly only see them get dusty on a shelf. Non-health professionals rarely/never consult them and I do not blame them. It is a legal c.y.a situation. This comment is not to criticize non-health professionals in schools. Accessing and trying to follow a safety "cookbook" is the last thing an anxious lay responder will do. "Plans" rarely match real life situations and in the best case scenarios tend to be rendered of little use.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2014 9:49 pm
the classroom assistants HAVE to be seems odd we don't Linda K.
Submitted by Harold Matthews (not verified) on June 16, 2014 5:22 am
This training is important and we all need to be there. First aid is a great issue which a kid should also know in details.

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