This case involves a middle school student who died of an asthma attack in Louisiana. The student had been living with asthma for several years, and had provided an inhaler for the school nurse to hold in case of an attack. On the date of the incident in question, the student was participating in a pep rally and suffered an asthma attack. There was some delay as to the response of teachers, who told him to wait until the end of the pep rally and, when it became evident that he was in serious distress, delayed calling emergency services. The student passed away due to the attack before emergency services arrived at the school.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please discuss your background in setting safety measures and training teachers for such an event?
- 2. What is the standard protocol for a student with a disability like asthma?
Expert Witness Response E-008468
I am the director of programs for a national non-profit that specializes in training educators in how to plan for, prevent, and respond to emergency situations. I have also provided training for after-school care providers including the Boys and Girls Club. I also provide direct training that is specific to after school programs. One of the components of this is responding appropriately to medical emergencies. I have 28 years of experience as a teacher and administrator at both the elementary and secondary levels. The standard protocol is typically dictated by the doctor in terms of orders that he/she writes for care, such as whether the student should carry an inhaler, how, when, and under conditions it should be administered. If the student has an individualized education program, such as for Other Health Impaired, that legal document will contain specific instructions on how to care for the medical and educational needs of the student. Regardless of whether an IEP exists or not, schools and after care providers must have emergency medical and emergency contact information for each student which should designate medical conditions, treatment options, and contact information so that a response can be enacted in a timely fashion. Medical devices and medications should be accessible to the student at all times regardless of the place or time of day. The standard protocol should be when there is the potential for a life threatening event that 911 is called immediately and can be cancelled if need be. When the incident is lower level (i.e. not life threatening), the parents should be contacted immediately to provide notification and to receive instructions for treatment if there is any clarification needed. The inability to reach a supervisor or parent does not exempt the employee from a responsibility to provide adequate treatment in a timely fashion. The protocol should always be to err on the side of caution.