Staff in charge of pupils during a visit have a duty of care to make sure that the pupils are safe and healthy. They also have a common law duty to act as a reasonably prudent parent would (In Loco Parentis). Staff must not hesitate to act in an emergency and to take life-saving action in an extreme situation or to stop an activity they feel is unsafe or dangerous.
Emergency procedures are an essential part of planning a school visit.
If an Accident Happens, the priorities are to:
- Assess the situation
- Safeguard the uninjured members of the group
- Attend to the casualty Inform the emergency services and everyone who needs to know of the incident.
The Group Leader who will take charge in an emergency would need to ensure that emergency procedures agreed before the trip are put in place and that back up procedures are arranged. The Group Leader must liaise with the representative of the tour operator if one is being used. If the Group Leader is injured a pre-designated deputy teacher must take control.
Pre-arranged School/Home Contact
The school contact’s main responsibility is to link the group with the school, the parents, and the LEA and to provide assistance as necessary. The named person must have all the necessary information about the visit, the pupils, the venue and the itinerary. Normally this contact must be a member of the Senior Management Team preferably the Headteacher if they are not on the trip. Schools should send copies of the names, home addresses and home telephone numbers and dates of birth of all people on a school visit to Central Watch before the visit.
All those involved in the school trip, including supervisors, pupils and their parents must be informed of who will take charge in an emergency, the named back up cover and what they are expected to do in an emergency.
If an emergency occurs on a school visit the main factors for the Group Leader to consider include:
- Establish the nature and extent of the emergency as quickly as possible Ensure that all the group are safe and looked after
- Establish the names of any casualties and get immediate medical attention for them
- Ensure that all group members who need to know are aware of the incident and that all group members are following the emergency procedures
- Ensure that a teacher accompanies casualties to hospital and that the rest of the group are adequately supervised at all times and kept together
- Notify the police if necessary
- Notify the British Embassy/Consulate if an emergency occurs abroad
- Inform the school contact. The school contact number must be accessible at all times during the visit
- Notify the LEA. This can be done by the school contact. During office hours telephone Children’s Services at Progress House on 01942 486123. Outside office hours contact Central Watch on 01942 404040.
- Details of the incident to pass on to the school must include: nature, date and time of incident; location of incident; names of others involved so that parents can be reassured; action taken so far, action yet to be taken (and by whom)
- Notify insurers, especially if medical assistance is required (this may be done by the school contact)
- Notify the provider/tour operator (this may be done by the school contact)
- Ascertain telephone numbers for future calls. Mobile phones, though useful are subject to technical difficulties, and must not replace usual communication procedures
- Write down accurately and as soon as possible all relevant facts and witness details and preserve any vital evidence
- Keep a written account of all events, times and contacts after the incident
- Complete an incident report form as soon as possible. Contact the Health and Safety Executive on return.
No one in the group should speak to the media. Names of those involved in the incident must not be given to the media as this could cause distress to the families. Media enquiries must be referred to the Public Relations Department on 01942 827164. Out of office hours Central Watch on 01942 404040 can contact the Public Relations Officers in an emergency. No one in the group should discuss legal liability with other parties.
Emergency Procedures Framework for School Base
Prior to the visit. The name, school and home telephone number of a school contact must be identified. It is advisable to arrange a second school contact as a reserve. Community and controlled schools will normally have an LEA named person usually the Director of Education. Headteacher’s and Group Leaders must bear in mind that the contact lines may become busy in the event of an incident and that alternative numbers to ring would be useful.
The main factors for the school contact to consider include:
- Ensuring that the Group Leader is in control of the emergency and establishing if any assistance is required from the school base
- Contacting parents. Details of parents’ contact numbers need to be available at all times while the group is on the visit. The school contact must act as a link between the group and parents. Parents must be kept as well informed as possible at all stages of the emergency
- Liaison with the LEA and/or Governing Body. The school contact must act as a link between the group and the LEA and/or Chair of Governors and arrange for the group to receive assistance, if necessary
Liaison with Media Contact
If a serious incident occurs the school contact must liaise with the Councils Public Relations Department on 01942 827164 or CYPS on 01942 486123 Central Watch on 01942 404040.
The Reporting of the Incident
This must be done using the appropriate Form 4, if necessary. Some incidents are reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).
After a Serious Incident
It is not always possible to assess whether group members not injured or directly involved in the incident have been traumatised or whether other pupils or staff in the school have been affected. In some cases reactions do not surface immediately. Schools in this situation have sometimes found it helpful to contact local community support services and to seek professional advice on how to help individuals and the school as a whole cope with the effects of a tragedy. Schools may contact the LEA regarding this support.
Action to be taken by CYPS
The recipient of the emergency call from the party’s home contact person will ensure all relevant information has been received.
The Director of Children’s Services (or her/his representative) will be immediately informed.
The Director of Children’s Services will appoint a designated senior officer to co-ordinate the response to the emergency. She/he will:
- Contact the Press Officer to secure support in dealing with the media
- Establish contact with the Headteacher
- Establish an operations centre within the Education Department Establish contact with the group’s leader to channel advice and support
- Contact the Police to determine relative roles and channels of communication
- Ensure swift and sensitive communication with parents Arrange early press statement in brief and general terms
- Alert the Chief Executive and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services.
The Director of Children’s Services may wish to contact the Health and Safety Executive or the Chief Executive.
It is stressed that the emergency numbers provided must not be used for any other purpose than those described in this section.
The ability to give First Aid is an essential though, hopefully a rare aspect of outdoor visits, journeys and expeditions. The two levels of training are the one-day course for ‘Appointed Persons’ and a four-day course with ‘Assessment for a Qualified First Aider’.
First Aid provision must be part of the trip Risk Assessment.
- Every party should have at least one adult qualified first aider.
- On residential trips there must always be an appointed person on duty. The location of the residential base and the nature of the activities planned may require the Group Leader to ensure that there is always a qualified first aider available. This would be when the base is remote from accident and emergency facilities.
- Staff accompanying the trip must know where the nearest and most accessible Accident and Emergency Hospital is situated and how to get there.
- It is recommended during residential trips that transport and driver are available on site in case of an emergency. When there is an expectation that this role is fulfilled by school staff, they must be in a fit state to drive.
- If a party divides into groups that undertake separate activities which take place away from each other, each group must have an adult appointed person and a travel first aid kit.
First Aid Kits
First Aid Kits must be made of suitable material designed to protect the contents from damp and dust and must be clearly identified as first aid containers. The marking used must be a white cross on a green background. First aid kits must contain only items which the first aider has been trained to use.
The contents of travel first aid kits should be appropriate for the circumstances in which they are to be used and should include the items recommended by the Health and Safety Executive. An up to date list can be accessed on the web site the government first aid (external link) website
It is recommended that for visits abroad a full first aid box be provided. For visits to activity centres in the United Kingdom the Group Leader must check with the centre to confirm that the centres first aid facilities are available at all times.
Fire can occur anywhere, at anytime but it is particularly dangerous when it occurs at night in a dormitory which is unfamiliar to children and staff.
The Group Leader must ensure that wherever the children are taken, the local fire procedures are well known. The Group Leader must request a copy of the host’s fire procedures and on arrival, check the fire action sign which confirms the appropriate action. The Group Leader shall also inform all members of the party what is expected of them if they discover fire or if they hear the fire alarm sound.
The Group Leader must always have the list of participants with her/him at all times, and take a roll call at the assembly point as soon as possible.
In dormitories, the Group Leader should ensure the dormitory is clear and report the situation to the senior person at the assembly point.
When staying in dormitories, it is essential to do a fire drill on arrival.
The Group Leader must ensure that teachers know the location of fire extinguishers, but the priority is to get out and stay out.
All staff must satisfy themselves that children do not take items which may create a fire on any school trips, and especially into dormitories. The dangers and the penalties must be clearly explained to children.