Emergency Medical Situations In The Classroom


Emergency Medical Situations In The Classroom

By: Kaicey Weber and Allison Wood

Created: April 2017


Most teachers enter a classroom ready with multiple lesson plans, and backup ones just in case. But what does a teacher do when a student with a medical condition enters their classroom or an emergency medical situation occurs in the middle of class? Specific health conditions teachers will encounter are food allergies, and students with seizure disorders such as epilepsy. The following web page outlines warning signs, tips, strategies, and resources on students with these health conditions.    

Why know about Medical Emergencies?

  • Medical emergencies can happen at a school at any given time.
  • The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) found that 18 percent of all teachers surveyed in elementary and high schools in the Midwest had provided some aspect of emergency care to more than 20 students each academic year.
  • Seventeen percent reported that they had responded to one or more life-threatening student emergencies during their teaching career.
  • According to the National Association of School Nurses, around 30% of students have a chronic health conditions in schools.

What to do before an emergency:

  • Know and understand your school's emergency policies
  • Practice! Think of ways that you can keep your classroom calm if an emergency happens.
  • Talk with administrators about things you can and can not do in a class.
  • Have a calm way to call the nurse if something happens.
  • Talk with your students about it. Perhaps even give students jobs and have a few students that would call the nurse or 911 if it was needed.
  • Keep your room stocked with medical supplies like bandages, antiseptics, and other things to help with minor injuries.
  • Know your students and the students in the school. At the beginning of the year, talk with administration and become familiar with the medical conditions in the school. If you know a student is prone to have seizures, then you can prepare yourself so if something happens in the hall or somewhere you know how to respond even if the student is not your student.
  • Get CPR certified BEFORE you start teaching
  • Follow this link to find the closest CPR certification class near you: http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr
  • Here is an example of a crisis plan:
  1. Student nearest door goes next door to as Teacher X for assistance
  2. Student nearest intercom notifies office about the emergency
  3. Unless you are in danger, remain in your seats. If you are in danger, move quickly and quietly to designated area.
  4. Report any missing students to faculty or staff
  5. When the crisis is over, return to your seats for headcount
  • Know and understand basic first aid





















What are common medical conditions you will encounter in the classroom?

Food Allergies















  1 in 13 children or 2 students in every classroom have a food allergy

What teachers should know before the first day of school: 

  1. What are your students allergic to and the signs of their allergic reactions?

  2.  How to respond if your student has an allergic reaction?

  3. How to administer epinephrine

  4. Know information that are included in Section 504 or IEP Plans if they have one
  5. Know the rights afforded to students with food allergies (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA))
  6. Effects of food allergies on child’s behavior and ability to learn (anxiety and stress)
  7. How to give emotional support if a reaction does occur
  8. Common risk factors, triggers, areas of exposure
  9. Specific strategies for fully integrating children into all activities (allergen-free projects)
  10. Create rules for the classroom
  • No food sharing
  • Handwashing after handling food
  • Wash surfaces after food is used
  • Use non-food items for classroom projects
  • Encourage packaged items with ingredient labels
  • Keep safe snacks in the classroom (ask parents to buy)
  • Keep a copy of student’s Food Allergy Care Plan for substitutes
  • Encourage students with allergies to pack lunch
  • Peanut Free tables at lunch time

Food allergy reactions can be unpredictable. About 1 of 4 students who have a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction at school have no previous known food allergy.

What to look for: 

  • swollen lips, tongue, or eyes;
  • itchiness, rash, or hives;
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;
  • congestion, hoarse voice, or trouble swallowing;
  • wheezing or difficulty breathing; dizziness, fainting, or loss of consciousness;and mood change or confusion.

Children with food allergies might communicate their symptoms in the following ways:

  • It feels like something is poking my tongue. My tongue (or mouth) is tingling (or burning). My tongue (or mouth) itches.
  • My tongue feels like there is hair on it.
  • My mouth feels funny.
  • There’s a frog in my throat; there’s something stuck in my throat.
  • My tongue feels full (or heavy).
  • My lips feel tight.
  • It feels like there are bugs in my ears.
  • My throat feels thick.
  • It feels like a bump is on the back of my tongue or throat

Tips for parents: 

1. Communicate with the school (Write school nurse and principalSend copies of forms, Ask school if they have food allergies management policies in place)

2. Meet with a doctor to get proper forms filled out and medication

3. Meet with school food distributor to find out how they handle meals in the cafeteria

4. Meet with school teacher to discuss classroom management


Allergic Reaction Plan:









































Over 300,000 american children have a seizure disorder  

Seizure characteristics:

Convulsions or sudden falls, Blank staring, Distortions of the child's environment which others can not see, Dazed trances where memory is not working.

Types of seizures: 

  • Absence: Seizures that produces loss of awareness. May include movements of the face blinking or arm movements.
  1. Manage through making sure the student didn't miss key parts of the lesson.
  • Simple partial seizures: limited to one area of the brain. Child may not be able to control body movements or senses.
  1. Manage through comfort and reassurance.
  • Complex partial: Student looses consciousness, becomes unresponsive, may walk around or tap or mutter without any idea what they are doing
  1. Manage by speaking calmly, give them a hug, or even ignore the student until they are aware again. After their awareness is returned, help the student reorient themselves.
  •  Generalized tonic-clonic: Convulsions which the student jerks or stiffens, may lose bladder and bowel control, lasts a minute or two and student bay be confused as their consciousness returns.

  1. First aid for convulsive seizure protect the child from injury.
  2. Keep calm, and tell children the child will be okay
  3. Gently get child onto the floor and away from things that can hurt them.
  4. Put a pillow or jacket under their head so they do not hurt it.
  5. Turn child to one side to let fluids drain and clear airway.
  6. Do not force open mouth, hold tongue, put anything in mouth, or restrain movement
  7. Let child take time and rest until full consciousness returns
  8. Give CPR if needed

When should EMS be called:

  • If a child has no known history of seizure
  • Consciousness does not return after a seizure ends
  • A second seizure begins shortly after
  • Seizure doesn't end after 5 min
  • Child hits their head and can not be roused
  • Vomiting
  • Can not see
  • Strong headache
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dilation of pupils

How to help other children understand:

  1. What happened to the child is called a seizure.

  2. It happened because for just a minute or two the child’s brain did not work properly and sent mixed up messages to the rest of his body. Now that the seizure is over, his brain and his body are working properly again.

  3. Having seizures is part of a health condition called epilepsy, which some children have.

  4. Epilepsy is not a disease and it can’t be caught from other children.

  5. Children who have this condition take medicine to prevent seizures, but sometimes one happens anyway.

  6. Allow student to speak to class to explain their condition if they are comfortable with that

  7. Allow a medical professional to come in and teach about them if the child would like.

  8.  Seizures stop by themselves, but it’s good to know first aid steps that will keep a child safe while the seizure’s happening

Signs of a seizure:

  1. Brief staring spells (5-10 seconds) in which the child does not respond to direct attempts to gain his attention

  2. Periods of confusion

  3. Head dropping

  4. Sudden loss of muscle tone

  5. Episodes of rapid blinking, or of the eyes rolling upwards

  6. Inappropriate movements of the mouth or face, accompanied by a blank expression

  7. Aimless, dazed behavior, including walking or repetitive movements that seem inappropriate to the environment

  8. Involuntary jerking of an arm or leg

Seizure Plan
























Final Thoughts:

        Above all, know your students! Understand the medical conditions that are in your class and school so you can prepare for them. Talk with your school about their procedures they have in place before you start teaching. Have open communication with your students so they know what to do in a medical situation. Remember to always stay calm and always do what you think is best for your student!



F. (2016, August 11). What Teachers Should Know About Their Students with Food Allergies. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://blog.foodallergy.org/2016/08/11/what-teachers-should-know-about-their-students-with-food-allergies/

Gupta, R. C. (Ed.). (2016, June). Febrile Seizures. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/febrile.html

Health, C. O. (2008, October 01). Medical Emergencies Occurring at School. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/122/4/887

How are Teacher Trained to Handle Medical Emergencies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from http://www.topeducationdegrees.org/faq/how-are-teacher-trained-to-handle-medical-emergencies/





Kids with Food Allergies. (2015). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/food-allergy-school-planning-tips-for-parents.aspx

Mahoney , D. (2014). Plan now to deal with medical emergencies in schools. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://www.districtadministration.com/article/plan-now-deal-medical-emergencies-schools

Your Child at School and Child Care. (2014). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/seizures-youth/about-kids/your-child-school-and-child-care