Often emergencies in schools do happen. These may not be serious emergencies, but an emergency is an emergency! There are several different types of emergencies, from First Aid, fires, Utility emergencies, Lift emergencies, Security emergencies etc.
In an emergency, it is important to stay calm. A Pupil will always turn to the first member of staff he or she can find. This could be a Teacher, Care Staff, a Volunteer or even you, as a Caretaker. Keeping a cool head and remaining calm is important, no matter what the emergency is. It is also good to make sure that you know your School Emergency Procedures is important so you can assist as best you can.
One of the most important skills is First Aid. This can be lifesaving in the event of an emergency and is a skill that is universal and can be used at any time. I have First Aid at Work, (Which is a comprehensive First Aid Qualification, covering most First Aid situations. I am also AED Trained, which means I can use a Defibrillator, in the event of a Cardiac Arrest. I have never had to use an AED in a real situation, but you never know. On top of this, I am Mental Health First Aid Trained, to help people who are in Mental Health Crisis.
You may have other qualifications and skills, which can be handy in an emergency. For instance, are you able to use BSL, to communicate with someone that is hard of hearing? Or can you speak a 2nd language? (which may be helpful)
The first thing I do is use the AMEC Protocol. This stands for Assess, Make Safe, Evacuate the immediate area and Call For Help. So lets look at this in more detail.
Assess the Situation
The first thing to do is assess the emergency. What has happened?, How many people are involved? What’s the risk to life, the safety of others and what immediate action needs to be taken to mitigate the situation?
The situation may require making safe, to protect yourself and others. Such instances may include:
- Sounding the Fire Alarm to alert others to a fire
- Moving Staff, Visitors and Young People away from the emergency
- Switching off a Utility, such as the power, the water or the gas
- Extinguish a fire (if safe to do so) using a fire extinguisher.
- In the event of a Swimming Pool emergency, giving 3 sharp blows on a whistle, to signal swimmers to move to the side of the pool
- On equipment, operate the Red Emergency Stop Plunger
Evacuate the Immediate Area
Evacuating may be needed, if the emergency is serious and there is risk to life. This may mean moving people to another part of the building or to an Assembly Point outside, as appropriate. You should do this calmly and using a raised voice, use something along the lines of:
“May I have your attention please, I need you to quickly, calmly and quietly leave the building, via the nearest exit and proceed to the playground. Please do not stop for belongings. If you need assistance with leaving the building, please contact the nearest member of staff.”
When evacuating, the whole building, it is common practice to activate the Fire Alarm, by breaking the glass on the nearest Red Call Point. If needed, you should also operate the Emergency Egress Device, (Emergency Door Release) by breaking the glass.
Call for Help
You are going to need assistance in an emergency, so calling for help is something that needs to be done as soon as possible. Not only are you going to need the Emergency Services, you are also going to need help from colleagues. In my school, I do this, by placing an emergency call on my Radio, using the following example message:
“Sam to all, radios, this is an emergency message. Ambulance and First Aiders required in the Library, Room 23 B Block. Unconscious Young Person, ID unknown, no obvious injuries, the casualty is breathing and has a pulse. Over.” However, sometimes you will have to phone, instead of using a radio, so in this situation, it’s best to dial 999 before calling your school, to report the incident.
When assistance comes, handover as much information as you can. (What has happened, what you have done to make the situation safe, how many people are involved, if there are injuries etc.) The more information you can give to the Emergency Services and other colleagues, will make dealing with the emergency easier and will be a great help.
REMEMBER: Keep calm, remain professional and use your judgement wisely!
Below are some handy numbers, you may need in an emergency: (This list is not comprohensive)
- Emergency Services – Police, Ambulance Fire: 999
- British Transport Police: 61006
- Police Non Emergency: 101
- NHS 111: Call 111
- Power Cuts \ National Grid Emergencies: 105
- Local Council: Find your local Council here
- Gas Emergency: 0800 111999
- RSPCA: 0300 1234 999
- BT: 0800 800151