Wednesday 17 March 2010

Lessons will be learnt, no doubt?

The sad news broke today of a young lad who died after an asthma attack. Now, I speak from experience when I say that these are treatable and that prompt action means that the patient can be helped to recover. So why did he die? Because his school left him in a corridor and shoo-ed away the children who were trying to help - despite the fact that he was virtually unable to breathe. By the time his mother arrived, he was visibly grey. By the time he reached hospital, it was too late.

Now, you'd expect the school to be shocked into action, I imagine? Err, no. The problem was, apparently, that the school "had no written medical procedures for staff"
Evelyn Leslie, headteacher at Offerton High School , said there had been no medical policy in place at the time of 11-year-old Sam Linton's death in December 2007.
This is pathetic. I blogged long ago that rules and procedures are not enough. This is yet another example; if someone can't work out that a child who is going grey and unable to breathe needs an ambulance NOW then the existence of a policy statement in folder 5, tab 7 stating that an the teacher should notify the designated emergency medical coordinator (see folder 3, tab 2, section 5.6.2 for the current holder of this post) who should immediately call an ambulance is not going to be much help.

Officialdom never seems to realise that it's not policies you need in these situations, it's common sense and a feeling of responsibility. Policies for every situation actually achieve the exact opposite of this.


  1. This is a really odd story - most schools would call paramedics instantly in those circumstances (and undoubtedly in others that don't warrant it) simply to cover themselves.

    Surely everyone who has ever watched 'Casualty' and its ilk knows how dangerous asthma can be?

  2. What breath-taking incompetence by his teacher.

  3. Where was the assigned First Aid person? Are teachers not taught basic "life support" whose first rule is "GET A BLOODY AMBULANCE"? Something is very wrong here.

    I had to go to hospital for asthma once. Not fun.

  4. @measured not even slightly funny.

  5. Sorry to plug, but I had a close call recently.

    As BE says, first rule of anything medical is call in the cavalry.