Welcome to the Health and Safety Blog

I would like to welcome you to a new dimension for the Health and Safety office of the Greater Victoria Teachers' Association. Here you will find messages, advice, links and other gadgets related to health and safety, as well as our teaching profession.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Update: 911 issue

In conversations at the District Health and Safety meeting, it was agreed that the policy is out of date and needs updating. The new Occupationa Health and Safety Officer, Michael Colussi, confirmed that the existing policy is in contravention of Provincial Statutes regarding First Aid and First Responders.
A district teacher is a trained First responder and provides training in first aid. Kirk Doherty from Lambrick Park responded to my previous email about Emergency Calls with some very useful information. I have added it to this post for your reading as it is instructive. Here is his advice:

"As I'm sure you know, according to OHS Regulations (see below), a designated OFA attendant's authority for treatment of an injured worker trumps an administrator's authority (or district policy for that matter). As an OFA attendant, under no circumstances would I seek an administrator's approval to call an ambulance for an injured staff member. As the OFA, that decision is mine to make (unless the injured worker refuses medical treatment or there's someone present with  higher level of first aid certification).

Similarly, it is my understanding that lay rescuers (anyone who has taken a first aid course but is not a designated first attendant at the site) are protected by the Good Samaritan Act only if they act as a reasonably prudent person within the limits of their training. Every lay rescuer course I am aware of (and certainly the ones I teach) emphasizes the "call first" approach for serious medical emergencies and recommends that the rescuer call 9-1-1 if at all in doubt. A rescuer who waits for an administrator's approval to call an ambulance or calls an administrator to assist with the determination as to whether an ambulance is needed or not is not working within the limits of his or her training nor acting as a reasonably prudent person and could be placing themselves outside the protections of the Good Samaritan Act should things go badly.

With that in mind, a school administrator who insists on providing authorization for an ambulance in case of an injured worker would, I suspect, be playing with legal fire as there is nothing in her training which makes her qualified to determine whether an ambulance is needed or not. I can't imagine the district wanting to be exposed to this kind of liability in order to save the cost of an ambulance.

Finally, with respect to choices for staff members responding to another injured staff member, the choice should not be to call 9-1-1 then inform the school administrator or try to contact a school administrator, etc. for assistance with assessing the situation if unsure.  Rather, staff members responding to an injured co-worker should provide care within the limits of their training and experience (including calling 9-1-1 if deemed necessary by the first responder) and/or contact the designated Occupational First Aid Attendant (using procedures established for that particular worksite) if the injury/situation is beyond the scope of their training. 


Kirk Doherty
Lambrick Park Secondary School"
Be Safe!

Monday, April 4, 2011

911 Calls

In case of emergency, call 911. Well maybe! It seems that a conflict arises between what citizens are told what to do and District Policy.
Recently, a staff member wanted to call for an ambulance to assist a staff member who was stricken by an ailment. In the following staff meeting the principal informed the staff that no one was to call an ambulance, but must call the administrator who will make the determination of whether an ambulance is needed.
This policy, created in 1975, goes against the training all First Aiders and First Responders. 911 was set up to provide every citizen the opportunity to get important assistance whenever they need it and everyone is able to access the service. Informing the office first, in the case of an emergency, can delay valuable time which may cause irreparable damage the the patient. Furthermore, to restrict access to the 911 service is a denial of a civil right! The Health and Safety chart devised by the District, states that one of the fist ways of responding to a health and safety issue is to call 911!
Through the District Health and Safety Committee, the GVTA is demanding a review of the policy and a clarification of the phrase, "Authorization must be by the principal or his delegate." We believe that this does not mean a first responder must wait to get permission from the office before calling 911. Every employee should have the right to call911 if in his or her assessment immediate support is necessary. Unofficially, the district has stated the term "or his delegate" means the person on the spot. However, this point is still ambiguous.
It is my suggestion that if in the assessment of the person who first responds to an emergency you have two choices: a) call 911, then inform the school administrator or b) call the office and get help in the assessment. If you cannot contact the school administrator, call 911 if in your estimation it is an emergency.
Please discuss the Board Policy 5141.3 at your next H&S meeting. Ask your administrator his or her position on this policy. I would appreciate being made aware of any decisions your committee makes or the position of your administrator. The next District Health and Safety meeting is on April 14.

Be Safe!