WKU officials fine with medical emergency procedures

Joanna Williams

After a student recently had a seizure while in a classroom, WKU officials said there are currently no plans to provide basic first aid training to faculty members for in-class medical emergencies.

University Senate Chair Kelly Madole said currently there is nothing on the University Senate’s agenda about training faculty members as first responders or in basic first aid training.

“It places faculty in an extremely liable position if something was to happen,” she said.

Madole said she didn’t know how receptive faculty members would be to having basic first aid become required.

“I will say that many faculty members will be hesitant to be first responders,” she said. “It’s not out of a lack of compassion, but expertise.”

In a letter to the Herald, Scottsville junior Andrew Salman suggested WKU’s administration update emergency protocols after his personal experience witnessing a student have a seizure.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs, said he believes the university’s medical response procedure is sufficient.

Emslie said that the university has alerted faculty what to do if there’s a medical emergency.

The “Emergencies in the Classroom” card for the Bowling Green main campus lists four steps when dealing with a medical emergency.

The card first directs the faculty member to not try to diagnose the problem. The problem should then be reported to police. If the student has minor injuries, he or she should be taken to WKU Health Services. And finally, Human Resources should be contacted about injuries.

“It’s pretty clear,” Emslie said of the emergency card. “It’s in a 1, 2, 3, 4 steps and what to do.”

Sally Kuhlen-Schmidt, a professor in the psychology department, wrote a condensed form of the emergency response handbook in 2005 after feeling it was too long for part-time faculty and graduate students who teach.

Kuhlen-Schmidt said it is given to new faculty and department heads yearly, but it’s not supposed to replace the official medical policies.

She said the card is in most classrooms across campus but is not required.

“It cannot replace the official document, but they look at it and it says what a person is supposed to do,” Kuhlen-Schmidt said. “It’s a reference.

“I’m not responsible for setting an emergency procedure.”

She said she did not know what happened in the classroom when the student had a seizure, but said that it is normal for faculty and students to be in a state of shock.

“Most people are not trained with dealing with emergencies, so a level of confusion is common,” she said. “It’s not surprising that they did not know what to do right away.”

Kuhlen-Schmidt said that she tries to get the response card to everyone she can, but putting faculty in situations where they are confused is not ideal.

“There are procedures, and we are not a medical facility,” she said. “So it wouldn’t be responsible or appropriate to expect people to do something that is not their skill set.”