Emergency in the Classroom…

You know how at the beginning of the school year you are given each of your students’ IEPs, 504s, medical information, etc.? You remember how you read through all of it and wondered how on earth you would ever remember everything? And you prayed that those few students who do have serious medical conditions will never have an episode in your class, because you may forget what you were supposed to do and how to handle the situation? Well, it happened to me… a medical crisis in my classroom.

The 26th of January was when it happened. It was 1st hour and we were preparing for the state writing assessment. I had an IEP meeting right before school and was rushing around trying to make sure I had my handouts ready and my practice prompt on the board before school started.

After the bell rang, I was standing in the front of the room explaining the optional graphic organizers and the prompt. As I was looking around the room I noticed one boy who looked like he was falling asleep. I said, “let’s keep our heads off the desks please. This is English class, not sleeping class.” He raised his head back up and looked like he was trying to stay awake. Soon after, his head began to slowly go back down. I thought to myself that it wouldn’t be a big deal in a few seconds because they would be getting up to get their handouts and then actively writing their essays.

So, I told the kids that if they would like to make use of the graphic organizers they could come up and grab the one they preferred. What happened next was a bit of a blur, but the boy did get up to get an organizer. I was standing near his desk talking to another student when I saw him fall and knock over two desks. I instinctively grabbed his arm and tried to pull him back up. We set the desks back up and I made him sit in his desk. I saw that he was trying to get his belongings off the floor but was having difficulties. He kept repeating over and over that this sometimes happens when he gets really tired. Now, the instant that he fell, those notifications I read at the beginning of the year flashed in my mind. I remembered that he had a seizure disorder. However, I also remembered that he and his parents requested that we do nothing when he has one because they usually only last a few seconds and then pass. Looking back over the year, I remember seeing him kind of go to another world and look forward with glassy eyes, but I knew this was different.

After I got the kid back in his desk, he started to try to write his essay. His handwriting was very erratic. I immediately went to the room next door and called the office for help. The nurse wasn’t at school yet, but one of the secretaries came down. I asked him to stand up and walk out to the hall with me, but once he stood up he said he couldn’t walk alone. I had another boy help him into the hall, but on the way he was walking like he was drunk. He was bumping into desks and tripping over his own feet. I was scared he was going to hurt himself, which almost became reality. As soon as he got to the hall, he stumbled and fell to the floor. We had him stay there and one of the counselors brought him a wheelchair and took him to the nurse’s office.

I went back to my class and tried to restore order. I found out that the boy’s parents came to get him and take him home. Apparently his seizures have been occurring more frequently lately. I sure do with I had known that! Amazingly, the boy came back to school later that day and appeared to be completely fine.

I can say for certain that I had one of the biggest adrenaline rushes of my life, and that I need to find out everything I can about all of my students’ medical issues and what I should do if there is an emergency. I really don’t understand why this is not part of our teacher preparation. So, I have linked a document that discusses seizures and what to do when an emergency does happen. I hope that my experience has convinced anyone reading this that we should all be as informed as possible regarding our student’s health problems.



Filed under CADRE and my Experiences

4 responses to “Emergency in the Classroom…

  1. FutureTeacher

    Hi Stephanie,

    My names Justin, I am currently in the teacher education program at Illinois State and we have been assigned to seek out a few of the many teacher blogs on the internet and write a paper about them. Yours was one of the ones I chose : )

    I found your experiences as a first year teacher to be very informative and I think it gave me a better idea of some of the challenges and rewards I will get to experience when I enter the field. This post I found especially valuable in that thus far it has never come across my mind that I might have to deal with a student’s medical problem some time in my career as a teacher. Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope you can take some satisfaction in knowing that I’ll always have it in the back of my head to remember to know all my students medical history.

    – Justin

    • Thank you Justin! It is quite the compliment that you chose my blog to include in your paper.

      It was quite the wake-up call to experience this kind of emergency. May I also suggest that you include information on these students in your substitute letter. I didn’t think of that until I was gone the other day and it occurred to me that my sub didn’t know about this student. I am really glad that there were no problems.

      I wish you the best on your journey toward educating young minds! 🙂


  2. Pre-Service Teacher

    It crazy how these things can happen during class, especially during your first year! I don’t know how well I would handle it. Were you as scared as I think I would be? What was going through your head when this was happening? I’m so glad you got through it!

  3. Kait

    I am a pre-service teacher and I was wondering about the aftermath of this situation. You mentioned that teachers should be trained on how to handle certain emergencies that occur due to a student’s disability or medical disorder. I was curious after this incident if you brought this suggestion to an administrator’s attention. The reason I ask is because I’m hoping that if enough teachers bring it up then something will be done about it. My loved ones have personally been affected by situations like these and I hope to see more teachers getting trained on how to handle medical issues.

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