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How I Handled...

A Student-With-a-
Broken-Leg Emergency

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Last week, I received a walkie-talkie transmission from a physical education teacher. A boy had fallen on our basketball courts. It was possible he had broken a leg. The situation was handled efficiently thanks to the fact that we had a workable emergency plan in place.

The Problem:

You never know what will happen, but you try to be prepared Last week, I received a walkie-talkie transmission from a physical education teacher. A boy had fallen on our basketball courts. It was possible that he had broken a leg.

The Solution:

As you can imagine, I dropped everything else as soon as I received the transmission. At that moment, the situation was my highest priority. I notified the school nurse and we both raced to the athletic field. Our P.E. teachers had made the boy as calm and comfortable as possible. Because we believed the leg was broken, I used the walkie-talkie to notify our 7th grade house clerk to pull the student's emergency card, call for emergency services, and call the parents and notify them that their child would be transported to the local hospital. The clerk also made a copy of the emergency card and delivered it to the basketball court, so emergency techs would have all the information they needed. Our security people were contacted via walkie-talkie and told to stand by our school entrances and direct the ambulance to the student.

The emergency techs arrived and did their job. As they lifted the student into the ambulance, I ran off to get my car so I could follow the ambulance to the hospital. There, I could be of comfort to the student and meet the parents when they arrived. When the boy's mother arrived at the hospital, I reassured her, gave her my business card, and asked her to contact me later in the day to let me know how the boy was doing.

Upon my return to school, I let the nurse and P.E. teachers know the boy's status, and made sure an accident report was completed and on file. The next day, I called the mother to see how the boy was doing and to discuss any academic implications of the injury.

The Reflection:

I consider it fortunate that we had a workable plan in place. The event reminded me of the importance of having such a plan for emergencies. We cannot "wing it" during a crisis; we must have our ducks in a row if we're going to be able to handle problems in a smooth and efficient manner. Key to a workable plan is showing compassion and caring to the child and family -- to treat them as we would wish to be treated. We are proud to say we had a plan in place, that we followed it to the letter, and that everyone is pleased with the way in which the situation was handled.

About the How I Handled... Team of Principal Problem Solvers
The How I Handled... series is intended to be practical resource for all principals and principals-to-be. Each week, members of Education World's How I Handled team share how they solved actual problems relating to school leadership, parent involvement, professional development, and a host of other "principal" responsibilities. Six principals comprise our How I Handled team; two of them are elementary school principals, two work at the middle level, and two are high school principals. Team members remain anonymous; in that way, they can share freely the range of issues/problems they are called on to solve each day.

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