The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 20 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Life skill tips for teachers

The prayer of a father who lost his son to a freak accident of choking while eating lunch in school has been answered. A city-based private hospital has launched a series of training sessions for school teachers on how to tackle a medical emergency.

It is not enough for a school to have a well-equipped infirmary and an in-house nurse, basic life-saving skills are a must, Palak Dutta, father of Aryan, who was a Class VI student at DPS New Town, had told Metro days after his son’s death.

The plea spurred a team of doctors from Columbia Asia Hospital in Salt Lake to conduct basic life-saving training with the principal and teachers of La Martiniere for Boys on Monday and another one at St. James’ School on Tuesday. Visits to more schools, including DPS New Town, are on the cards.

“I approached some private hospitals and voluntary organisations, to be part of life-skill training. I realised that schools in India have no fixed health and safety guidelines to follow. Whatever facilities they arrange for, is totally their call. We are all very callous,” Palak told Metro on Tuesday.

Pulmonologist Tanvir Reza, who had attended to Aryan, orthopaedic Saumitra Misra and paediatrician Saumitra Dutta taught the La Martiniere teachers how to take care of various kinds of wounds and injuries and ensure immediate relief from pain.

“In a boys’ school it is common for students to suffer a fall and fracture or break a bone. The teachers have a two-fold duty towards an injured child —prevent further damage and get help,” Mishra told an attentive audience.

The doctors shared with the teachers ways of identifying a sick child and what to do if a child collapses or suffers from convulsions.

“The most important thing is to disperse the crowd of panicking students, keep calm and call for help,” paediatrician Dutta said.

Reza’s advice to schools — minimise travel time and take the child to the nearest hospital. He also suggested that schools be equipped with spacers for asthmatic children.

The pulmonologist demonstrated how to attend to a person who is choking. “We can choke anywhere, in school, in a restaurant and also at home when we are alone. These simple steps may help save a life,” he said.

With the help of a volunteer, he showed how one should support the victim’s back (to prevent him from falling) and press his abdominal area in a repeated downward and upward movement.

“If a child collapses, first shout for help. And till help arrives, try to resurrect him by pressing the area just above the bottom of the breast bone at a speed of 100 beats per minute,” he explained.

The teachers were made to repeat the exercises and handed certificates at the end of the session. “The workshop was very informative. I would love the drill to continue. That way we would act right and stay calm if an emergency really arises,” said Angela Roberts, the head of the junior section.

“It is very important for us to learn such basic techniques. We should know the right way of handling a sick child. Sometimes in panic we don’t do the right thing. So we also need to practise what we learn,” said Sunirmal Chakravarthi, the principal.

He shared with his colleagues and the doctors how a staff recently helped revive a boy whose blood-sugar level had dropped drastically by giving him sweets.

T.H. Ireland, the principal of St. James’ School, couldn’t agree more on the need to train teachers in handling medical emergency.

“I think at least some teachers should be equipped to handle a medical emergency, if not all. Six years ago, we held a similar session for all teachers. We found not everybody can take the pressure during an emergency. So we chose 10 teachers from different departments to attend today’s workshop,” he said.

Aryan’s father welcomed the initiative but added parents too should be involved in such training. “When things get better at home, I would like to do my bit and spread awareness among teachers, parents and students,” he said.