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What is School First Aid?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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School first aid refers to the type of medical attention that is given to students attending any type of educational facility. Ranging from elementary school to university, schools must be adequately equipped to handle any medical emergencies that may arise. While school first aid will vary according to country, this type of first aid is always present within a learning environment.

In most parts of the world, a school is considered a workplace. Since almost all workplaces must have some trained medical staff on hand, schools are no exception. More often than not, school first aid workers have had technical medical training that involves learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administering of prescription medications, and tending to common cold and flu viruses.

Schools must employ a certain number of trained medical staff members in accordance with local laws. While each school may have a different number of staff members, medical staff must be present at all times while school is in session. Boarding school medical staff members often live and work on campus, since students are on campus throughout an entire semester.

Students in need of medical attention should be able to rely upon the knowledge and expertise of school first aid staff. Illnesses that affect certain students should be brought to the attention of medical staff at the beginning of each semester. Frequently, medical staff members are also asked to accompany students on field trips in order to ensure medical safety.

All schools must have enough medical equipment to service students. Medical equipment of this nature can include a basic first aid kit, medical beds, diabetic equipment, and heart monitoring devices in addition to other important items. All rules and regulations concerning school first aid are left up to different staff members to decide.

A governing body, a school's board of directors, and sometimes teachers are all part of the school medical process. These involved parties decide upon the number of medical staff that a school needs, the type of equipment that should be kept on hand, and which skills medical staff members need to possess.

While some school first aid staff members may be trained nurses, this is not always the case. It is not uncommon for school medical staff to only have basic first aid training, though many schools also employ a full-time or part-time head nurse. Details surrounding first aid programs within schools will greatly vary from country to country, though almost all of these details can be found out by contacting your local school board.

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Discussion Comments

By JessiC — On Aug 21, 2011

@dimpley – Hi! Congratulations on your daughter heading off into the big world of school!

I totally understand your frustration, and I agree that it is a shame that schools can no longer afford things like first aid supplies. However, as an educator myself, I feel like I should explain a little further for you.

You see, teachers have put their own funds towards their classrooms for years, and I don’t know many who really mind to donate a little. Good teachers love their kids and they want to see them thrive.

However, having all of those little noses to clean and all of those little hands to wash (to help keep these children stay healthy) is not an easy or inexpensive task. That’s probably why your daughter’s teachers are asking for such things in bulk.

After all, prevention is the most important first aid in school!

By dimpley — On Aug 21, 2011

I was shocked this year when I got the list of things that my kindergartener was going to need when she went to school.

I had expected things like a book bag, crayons and the like. I was extremely surprised to see school first aid supplies and cleaning products on the list, however.

I thought that schools were supposed to supply things like disinfectant, paper towels, band aids and antibacterial soap. However, not only is my daughter being required to take these things to her class, she’s being asked to do so in huge quantities.

It’s a shame that our schools are in such bad shape financially that they can’t afford to buy the basics needed to take care of kids adequately.

It’s an even bigger shame that this cost is being passed off to parents who often can’t afford to but these things for themselves, let alone their schools.

After I went through the list, I calculated that besides the things that she herself will use personally (her book bag, uniforms and pencils) all of the other things they are asking for are going to cost about fifty bucks, give or take a few dollars.

That isn’t including school fees, either.

By Agni3 — On Aug 20, 2011

I’ve worked with several school systems in the teaching capacity for many years. No matter which place I was at they all had one thing in common.

All of the teachers and administration were required to have certification in first aid and cpr; also, blood bourne pathogens was required.

We also had to learn how to take care of possible hazardous materials, such as vomit, urine and blood.

The fact is that even in the school environment, things happen. It doesn’t matter how closely you monitor children, at some point or another, someone is going to get sick or hurt.

The schools wanted to help the teachers be able to take adequate care in the event of an emergency or serious illness.

They also wanted to cut back on any liability that the school might have if they had not properly trained their employees in these fields.

I never had to use the cpr, but I absolutely used the BBP and the first aid.

By John57 — On Aug 19, 2011

There have been many times that I have been thankful for the first aid offered at our school. Between four kids, I am on a first name basis with our school nurse.

Most of the time these are for minor problems such as a fever that ended up being strep throat, or the flu. Once in awhile they were seen for getting a cut at recess.

The time that I am most thankful for was when my son experienced a seizure in the classroom. He had not had anything like this happen before, and was immediately taken to the nurses office.

Once I found out what was going on, I felt so much better knowing he was in the hands of a qualified person until we could get him to the doctor.

By sunshined — On Aug 19, 2011

We live in a rural area with our schools scattered about and in different towns. They have one full time nurse who is hired to oversee the first aid for the entire school district.

She works on a rotating schedule and is in every school at least once during the week. Every school also has a full time person who may not be a nurse, but is trained in first aid procedures.

This way, there is always someone on staff who can administer first aid when needed.

By Monika — On Aug 19, 2011

@sunnySkys - While I agree with you about having a nurse on staff at school, I don't want to downplay the importance of first aid training. In an emergency, first aid can save lives!

CPR is a good example of this. CPR is life saving, and the sooner it is administered the better. But, you don't have to be an RN to give someone CPR.

I personally think it would be a good idea for all school personnel to have basic first aid training. That way whoever is there when an accident or emergency happens can respond to it.

By sunnySkys — On Aug 18, 2011

I'm pretty sure every school I've ever attended had a school nurse. If I remember right, the nurses were normally RNs as opposed to LPNs.

I think it's a good idea to have a nurse on staff at school instead of just someone trained in first aid. We all know a lot of scary stuff can happen during a school day. From asthma attacks to broken bones, the possibilities are endless!

I think when I have children I'm going to make sure whatever school I send them to has a trained nurse on staff.

By tigers88 — On Aug 18, 2011

I had a really scary experience when I was at school in the 4th grade. The whole class was lined up to go outside for recess. Someone behind me pushed me forward, just horsing around as kids like to do. Well I lost my balance and went flying forward. I ended up putting my forearm through a glass window in a door and was pretty badly cut.

An ambulance was called but until it got there the school nurse looked after me. She but a bandage on my arm and was able to slow down the bleeding, but the biggest thing she did was keep me calm. I was freaking out to put it mildly. I remember staring at all the blood and screaming and crying until I could barely breathe.

She held me in her arms and made me feel better even in the middle of a terrible situation. By the time the ambulance got there I wasn't crying at all. Her name was Nurse Cravens and I will never forget her. I have never met someone so calm and gentle.

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