In an Emergency….

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?

Make Safe

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

Compassionate, Honest and Unconditional Care

Last night, we had an emergency placement, of a ten year old lad called Max. I cannot go into the reason Max has been taken into care, but he has been placed with us for the time being. Sam and I are specialist Foster Carers and are the only Fostering Placement in the area, which deals with Trauma. Trauma can include, but is not limited to:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Witnessing a traumatic event, such as a car accident or the sudden death of a loved one
  • Exposure to violence, alcohol misuse and drugs
  • Being made to do things that the child does not want to do

There are not enough Foster Families who can support kids with these issues and placements are very far and few between. As I say, I cannot go into the reasons why Max is in care, but I will say that he was put in a Children’s Home, which was inappropriate for his needs. This placement broke down and we had a call at Teatime, as he needed to be placed with us.

Everything was fine until 1am , when Sam and I heard a scream. Normally we can tell who is screaming, by the sound. However, this time, we couldn’t tell. So it meant going in and checking on each of the boys. We finally found out it was Max and I took him downstairs, made him a hot chocolate and reassured and calmed him down and talked to him about his nightmare.

With the types of placements we have, you have to have a lot of patience and understanding. You also need to be a good listener and be non judgemental. Sometimes, kids find trusting adults difficult, especially if they have been mistreated. I can speak from experience, as we have had many kids come through our door, with trust issues. We have also had kids who are afraid of the bath, due to fear of drowning and also several kids who cannot sleep without the light on.

We have to make special adjustments for kids like this, so that we can make sure they safe and that their wellbeing is always at the heart of what we do. Their safety is always top priority and that is why we have CCTV, Security Doors, monitored alarms etc. I think that the kids do not see the house as a “prison”, more like somewhere extremely safe, where they can get back to what is important – being a child and enjoying childhood.

On top of this, we strive to support kids placed with us as best we can and we will never turn away a child in need. (nor will we ever give up on a child in our care) These kids often are broken, have been failed and need lots of love, support, a listening ear and not fear judgement. That is what the kids we look after get, 24 hours a day. Sam, Jenny and I do not mind being woken up in the middle of the night, by one of the boys and they are encouraged to come and knock on the door, if they can’t sleep, are not well or need to talk. We’re always happy to have a chat about what ever is bothering them. Sadly, (in the middle of the night) a lot of Foster Carers will talk to the child in question and then send them back to bed 10 mins later, with the problem half fixed. This is where we make a “positive difference,” because no matter what time it is, we will make the time to listen and support our kids, with open, honest and unconditional love.

Max was OK after he sat with me for 2 hours last night. It took some time to calm him down and to talk about how he was feeling. Thankfully, by 5am, we had managed to get him settled and back to bed. He is looking forward to going on holiday next week to Skegness with Sam, myself, Jenny, Sam’s mum Linda and the other boys. Max has never been on holiday before, so it is a bit daunting for him. However, he can’t wait, after finding out what’s on offer!

Max will be Ok, he just needs stability and the correct level of support and that is what he will get, while he is with us.

It’s one of those nights!

Tonight’s shift isn’t going well. We have Boarders keep getting out of bed and saying it is too hot. We have windows open and fans are in limited supply. For our unit, we only have 3 fans for 15 boarders! There are other fans, but they have been assigned to other units, who are probably having the same problem as we are; here on Jets.

All I can really advise the kids to do, is to fold back the duvet and sleep without it over them. Also I am advising that they do not wear a PJ Top in bed, to help keep them cool and if they need a cold drink, to grab a glass of squash, which is on a trolley, near to the Staff Base. (Jugs of Orange and also Blackcurrant Squash is on offer, plus a jug of plain water.)

I have also advised boarders to take showers instead of baths. (Off the washroom, there are 2 bathrooms, with shower and bath facilities.) I have been onto Amazon and bought a few more fans, which run on USB. The cost of these will come out of our Unit’s budget, but it’s worth it, as they run on USB and it means each boarder can have a fan in their rooms. Also, the sockets in the bedrooms, have USB ports. So we can just plug them in; just like that.

Hopefully soon, this lot will quieten down and hopefully we won’t have boarders, getting out of bed and complaining about the heat, or pressing the call buzzer, in their rooms. Apart from the heat, my shift is going quite well. I have done log books, sorted pocket money for tomorrow, (Pocket Money is always handed our on a Saturday) and I have cleaned the unit fish tank.

I’m on Waking Night again tomorrow, covering for a colleague who is ill. I enjoy my job and spending time with the boarders. Night Shift is long and it it can be busy at times. Whether I am dealing with a pupil whose been sick, to boarders who have had a nightmare or are homesick, to those boarders who generally disrupt things, I take it all in my stride and be like Mary Poppins! (Firm but fair) The boarders affectionately know me as their “Care Bear) because I’m a larger kinda guy, who quite hairy, plus I genuinely, do care about each and every boarder. I make time for each and everyone of them and I think that is why the boarders love me so much. Plus, I am not like some Heads of Care, who only work Monday to Friday. I am at school on the units or in my office, 7 days a week. Plus I am always at the other end of the phone.

Anyway, enough of my waffling, I got laundry to do. On weekends, our Laundry Staff do not work, so the Unit staff have to do it, but I don’t mind!

Goodnight folks, sleep well x

PS: We do have Air Conditioning, the Office, Lounge and by Staff Base, all have Air Conditioners. If I could, I’d have every bedroom air conditioned, but it costs too much, so I doubt that will happen.

Football is Coming Home!!!!

Yesterday, the atmosphere at school was electric; as we cheered on England, as they played Denmark last night. Sam and I organised a BBQ for the Boarders on all units and we got the bouncy castles out from storage. We put up gazebos, (3 of them our ours) I had a gazebo with Sam’s Disco Kit and played music through it. Of course, we had to play Football’s Coming Home (Southgate you’re the one) 3 Lions, Vindaloo, and Meat Pie Sausage Roll (Come on England give us a goal) Course, I had the kids and staff singing along.

So at 8pm and we all went to the Sports Hall to watch the match. We could not believe it when Denmark scored, as we all thought England were finished. Then we scored, making us level with the Danes. it was a nerve wracking match, which had us all on the edges of our seats.

Finally England scored again in extra time and the whole sports hall erupted! I think it was that loud, that the cheer probably could be heard from the carpark! The kids went mental, the staff went mental and Sam and I went mental! This is the 1st time that England got to the finals of the Euros \ World Cup and we have the chance to really bring football home, next week. Hopefully England will win. Imagine that, I think the whole country will erupt if that happens!

I ended up helping to get boarders off to bed and then helped Sam clean up the sports hall after. I didn’t get home until 11:45 last night and was knackered. I am on Care this afternoon and am working on the Jets Unit, on a late shift.

Time to disappear for Handover, so enjoy the sun and keep them fingers crossed for England!

A Guide to Cleaning School Toilets Part 2: (Changing Places Toilets)

What is a Changing Places Toilet?

A Changing Places Toilet, (or also known as a “Hygiene Room”) is a special toilet for completing hygiene tasks for those disabled people who cannot use a regular disabled toilet. These toilets have hoists, a changing table, a perinuclear toilet and other specialist equipment for disabled people. You know, going back 20 years, when I was in my last year at school, we had a Disabled Toilet, but it was far from the standards we see today.

So, Changing Places Toilets are important in schools, as regardless of if you are a Primary School, Secondary School or Special School, having clean facilities is important, especially if you are helping someone with their toileting needs. We have 2 Changes Places Toilets. We have one in B Block and one in Sick Bay on the 3rd floor of J Block. We’re having a 3rd installed in D Block, replacing the Disabled Changing Room for a Changing Places Toilet.

So, we have followed the procedure from my last tutorial, so what do we still have to do? While high dusting, clean the track for the hoist and make sure the hoist moves and can go up and down correctly. Also, lower the hoist and make sure to properly disinfect the entire hoist arm and the hoist hooks. I also clean the part of the hoist that raises and lowers a pupil and is why I always need my steps, when cleaning a Changing Places Toilet.

Then there is the changing table, This isn’t too hard to clean. I spray all surfaces with anti-bac and then wipe clean. While I am there, I also check the paper roll for the changing table and restock the dispensers with gloves and aprons, as needed.

We have toilets in our Hygiene Rooms, which wash and dry a user, so we have to be really careful when cleaning, due to how the toilet works. I usually spray anti-bac onto a cloth and wipe thoroughly. While I am here, I always test the alarm, by yanking the red cord and then reset it. Also, I make sure the red cord has not been tied up or is out of reach.

We have Clinical Waste Bins in our Hygiene Rooms and so they need special disposal. (They cannot go in the normal bin) So I change the bag, spray and wipe the inside and outside of the bin and take the clinical waste bag to the clinical waste bins in J Block. (We have a refuse Room on J Block, as we have a rubbish chute for normal rubbish and clinical waste on each floor. The normal rubbish goes into a big commercial bin, while the clinical waste goes into it’s own separate bin.

Once the floor is washed, soap and paper checked and the sink, hand dryer and soap dispensers are disinfected, that’s job done! Don’t forget to put a wet floor sign up before you leave!

A Guide to Electrical Safety

Electrical Safety is as important in the home, as in the workplace.Regardless if we are an employer, a employee or a householder, we all have a duty to respect electricity and use it safely. In this guide, we will look at how we can use electricity safely and the steps we need to take.

I am writing this post, after a dangerous cable, which had partially melted, knocked the power out on the 3rd and 4th floors of J Block.

First, Lets Talk About Pylons, Substations and Railways.

Tall electricity Pylons can be very dangerous, as they carry thousands and thousands of of volts of electricity and is enough to instantly kill you. This is why you should never attempt to climb a pylon or fly a kite or model plane (inc. drones) near them. If you see someone trying to climb a pylon, you must phone the Police, by dialling 999, Followed by Electricity Emergency on 105 immediately.

Substations are also just as dangerous. They may carry less voltage, but still can kill you or seriously injure you, due to the voltage and magnetic fields, caused by the incoming and outgoing power, as it is stepped up and down. Some Substations are in yards, like the one behind the School Laundry. These usually have high fences and also have large Danger of Death signs on them. (For good reason) Others may be in a building or enclosed in a room inside a building. An example of this, is the substation that transforms the power from our Generators, to a safe voltage and are located next to the Generator Plant Room in the Basement of D Block. These Substations are also kept locked and only the Electricity Board have keys.

Railways use either 750v DC 3rd Rail, 25kv AC Overhead, (25,000 Volts) or 750v DC 4th Rail. Each type of power feed can cause life changing injuries or can cause instant death. It is illegal to trespass on Railway land and it is extremely dangerous to touch the conductor rails or the overhead lines.

Safety of Electrical Equipment at Home and At Work.

Equipment at work, that is plugged into the mains, should have a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) once a year. This checks the connections to the plug and ensures that the appliance is safe to use. Some appliances may fail, due to old wiring, damage to the plug or earth leakage.

Testing of equipment at home is not a legal requirement, but you should check that sockets are not overloaded and that the plugs and sockets are checked regularly. This also applies in the workplace. If you need to use an extension lead, DO NOT OVERLOAD IT! If you are using en extension lead on a drum, make sure that it has been completely unwound and is not looped, or it may get very hot. Never use paperclips as substitute to fuses, as it can cause the fuse holder to overheat and combust!

In the home and at work, it is important to check cabling, sockets and switches regularly. Look for signs of cracked \ frayed cabling, cracked sockets \ switches, switches and sockets that are hot to touch, Burnt or scorched, electrical fittings that are loose or badly connected etc. Any signs of the above should be dealt with, by taking the socket \ switch \ appliance out of use and a electrician called to remedy the fault.

Electrical Safety When Out and About

If you are out and about and see a faulty lamp post, or a traffic lights that are not working properly, report the issue to your local Council. However, if the fault poses a danger to the general public, such as a sparking lamp post, call the Emergency Services on 999.

If you see a pit, where men have been working to replace cable in the ground, don’t be a pratt and jump down to have a look! There is the possibility that a live cable may of been left exposed and that the cable may be a higher voltage than 240 volts. The higher the voltage, the higher the risk of you receiving an injury or even death!

If you see a downed cable, do not go near it, keep everyone clear and call the emergency services. Dial 999.

If we respect electricity and we use it for it’s correct purpose, it will respect us. If we do not respect electricity, it can lead to death injury or even fire!

Vindaloo anyone?

So after the epic England Match yesterday, some of the boys on the Oaks and Acorns Unit have decided to make their own version of Vindaloo, to support England in Euro 2021. That meant that this afternoon, I had to go back into work to get the camcorders from the AV Cupboard in the Main School. (They have since been locked in the filing cabinet in the Unit Office and our Young People were fully supervised while using the cameras.

So far, the kids have recorded parts of the music video in the corridors on J Block and D Block and dragged staff into the video, including myself and Sam. The kids managed to catch me walking down the stairs singing along and Sam singing and dancing with a mop. I am going to try and drag other staff into the video, including a few teachers and our Head Karen!

I know Karen is very into encouraging the Performing Arts side of things and she will definitely get involved with the video., I might also suggest that we do a video for 3 Lions, which is something we can get the whole school involved with. (Staff and Pupils)

I have posted the link to the music video below. (The song was originally released in 1998. This UK No. 2 hit single is probably the most popular England Football Anthem ever and was by the band “Fat Les”. The music video for the song is a parody of the video for “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve, which was itself inspired by the music video for “Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack. The video features a drummer, Sumo Wrestlers, Hockey Players, loads of kids, a bloke with a piece of paper with the photo of David Walliams on it, a Vicar and a drunk woman, among many others.

Meanwhile, I am currently sat on the Children’s Assessment Unit at the Hospital with Josh. He may require an appendectomy and is currently on a drip of Paracetamol and fluids, while they decide if they need to operate or not. If he does, it will be likely that they will operate in the morning and of course, I will update the blog as soon as I can, regarding this. For now tho, I got some work I can do on my laptop, πŸ™‚

Football Fever Grips School!

Yesterday. football fever sweeped school yesterday, as the kids watched the England vs Scotland Match in the Sports Hall. Last night. Sam had setup the projector in the Sports hall, so everyone could watch the England – Scotland match. (Socially distantly of course) As the Boarders were walking from their units to D Block, (which is where the Sports Hall is) they were singing the Lightning Seeds – 3 Lions really loudly. At the time, I was on the phone to a parent and had to ask them to hold the line for a moment. I then opened the office window and stuck my head out the window to see what was going on. It was such an atmosphere as staff and boarders walked across the car park, to the Sports Block, singing 3 Lions. (The Sports Block is D Block) The Sports Block has the Sports Hall on the ground floor, an observation balcony and the Fitness Room on the 1st floor, and the basement; houses the 25 metre Indoor Swimming Pool.

Even our kids got in on the action, singing along to 3 Lions (Especially Josh!)

Most of the windows in J Block have England Flags flying , as the kids show their support for our home nation. Many of the boarders were also wearing their England Shirts last night too. The kids have also been playing 3 Lions \ Vindaloo from their phones, on their CD Players in their rooms and on their tablets. It just proves how proud our kids are of their home nation, I know we have boarders from all faiths and backgrounds, but last night that didn’t matter… The boarders and staff united last night, to cheer on England, and I was proud to be a part of it!

In the Sport Hall, the atmosphere was electric, as staff and kids watched the match, with loud cheers throughout the match, Shame the match was a draw! After the match, the kids were certainly excited after the tense and match. Some ver very tired, but the others were still very hyper. On the way back to J Block, some of the kids were singing Fat Les – Vindaloo as they walked across the carpark. Tryin to get the kids to settle down for bed, was quite a tricky task; but we got there eventually! Yesterday had to be the most exciting late \ Sleep In Shift I have had for a while!

A Guide to COSHH

What is COSHH? COSHH? It is a set of regulations, for controlling substances, which could be hazardous to health. COSHH stands for Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health and came into force in 2002.

The regulations are designed to prevent or reduce workers exposure to hazardous substances by:

  • finding out what the health hazards are;
  • deciding how to prevent harm to health (See my Guide to Risk Assessments)
  • providing control measures to reduce harm to health;
  • making sure they are used safely;
  • keeping all control measures in good working order;
  • providing information, instruction and training for employees and others;
  • providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases;
  • planning for emergencies.

Information Cited from the Health an Safety Executive

The first thing you are going to need to do, is have a wonder round your workplace and identify the risks. IE: Do you have cleaning chemicals? Do you store combustible materials such as petrol? Do you store poison, such as rat poison? Once you have identified the risks, you next need to identify how you will control the risk, by using proper PPE, or by using a safer substitute. All the information needs to be entered on your COSHH Risk Assessment.

COSHH in Schools, does not only apply to cleaning chemicals. It can also apply to chemicals used in the Science Labs too. You should liaise with the Head of Science or your Lab Technician, to make sure that your lab is compliant with COSHH.

Next, you need to make sure you have the Data Sheets for the chemicals you are using. Data Sheets are important, as they tell you:

  1. The name of the chemical. (Eg: Jangro Daily Toilet Maintainer)
  2. The ingredients in the chemical
  3. Hazards associated with the chemical
  4. Usage instructions
  5. Storage instructions
  6. Emergency Instructions
  7. Disposal Instructions

So lets break this down and look at each item in the list above.

The name of the chemical
This is quite obvious and I don’t think I need to elaborate on this πŸ™‚

The ingredients in the chemical
The Data Sheet, will tell you what the active ingredients are for the chemical.

Hazards associated with the chemical
The chemical may have hazards associated with it, which will be listed on the Data Sheet.

Usage instructions
The Data Sheet, will provide clear instructions on how to properly use the chemical. This includes the correct PPE. (Personal Protective Equipmment)

Storage Instructions
The Data Sheet will tell you how to store the chemical. For instance, the chemical may require it’s container to be kept upright and in a cool and dry environment,

Emergency Instructions
The Data Sheet will tell you what to do in an emergency, such as a spillage or if you are exposed to the chemical. (IE: you get the chemical in your eyes.

Disposal Instructions
The Data Sheet will give clear instructions on how the chemical is to be disposed. For instance, it may indicate that the chemical is not safe to be washed down the drain) It will also tell you if the container can be recycled or not.

You should make sure that all chemicals are kept in a secure environment. In my School, we have a COSHH Store in the Basement of B Block. and in the Basement in J Block. All COSHH Stores are kept locked and the keys are only accessible to those who need access as part of their job. In each store, there is a folder, which contains the COSHH Data Sheets.

Quit often in my job, I come across chemicals that Teachers bring in from home and “stash” under the sink in their classroom. Not only is this dangerous, (as children can easily get their hands on the chemical) but also a Health and Safety risk. You should always use the same chemicals universally on site. (All our chemicals come from Jangro, so we use their line of products.) Chemicals found under the sink in a Classroom or in a Teacher’s cupboard, are confiscated and destroyed. Usually, the Teacher involved gets a stern ticking off from me. However, normally they ignore what I say and I end up going round in the same circle, on a regular basis.

So that’s my guide to COSHH. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email.