School officials should go with students to the hospital

Published 10:57 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Recently, a Clark County elementary special needs student had a seizure at school. His parents, like most of us, work and were unable to get to the school.

The school called an ambulance and had the child sent to the hospital. The problem came when the staff decided it was acceptable to send this child alone to the hospital. Part of the child’s disability is in the communication area.

 Imagine how terribly frightening and confusing it is for the most able-bodied individual to undergo the trauma of a seizure. Now, think about riding in the loud ambulance and being wheeled into the chaos of an emergency room without the ability to fully communicate what you’re feeling and enduring. All of this happened to a child!

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 Maybe you, like me, assumed when a child, any child, leaves school in an ambulance an adult goes with him. After all, the school will have a record of life-altering things such as allergies that the child may not be able to verbalize and the hospital be completely unaware of. It would seem like common sense to send an adult.

Clark County Public Schools apparently does not share that sentiment. Though, it could have been catastrophic for this family, thankfully it was not.

 If this incident is not appalling enough, I have heard from special education teachers in surrounding counties who said their policy is every child leaving school in an ambulance is accompanied by an adult.

The question is why does Clark County not have the same policy? And why in blue blazes do they have to be told that sending a child in an ambulance alone is a really bad idea?

 The superintendent and the board of education were made aware of this incident. However, the superintendent failed to respond until after I made a public Facebook post about it. At that point he contacted the family to apologize. What took so long? Why wasn’t the apology issued immediately? How can we be sure this doesn’t happen again?

 If your child has special needs you can protect him from befalling this same ordeal. Every special needs child has an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 plan in place. That plan details what is and is not to happen to the child as he navigates his school day. Within that plan, you need to include an emergency plan dictating that if a parent cannot be reached an adult from the school must accompany the child to the hospital. I cannot emphasize enough the need for every single special needs student in Clark County to have this in place.

 While board members and citizens debate larger gyms in a new school, building bridges, and raising taxes who is looking out for what really matters — our kids? We send our kids to school entrusting them to adults who we believe will care for them like they would any member of their own family. Yet, we must ask ourselves this: who would send any loved one, let alone a special needs child, to the hospital in an ambulance, unable to adequately communicate and left to fend for themselves? It is a travesty no child should endure.

Joan Graves is a parent of a special needs child and lives in winchester.