Tim Cornwall

First aid in the classroom

One day you could find yourself in a position to save a student's life

How many teachers could save a child from sure death if that child were to go into an epileptic fit, or anaphylactic shock? Do you even know what those words mean outside of a dictionary definition?

How about sudden acute vomiting or what is the treatment for sudden choking? Many of the most serious situations for children, unfortunately and more than likely the majority of teachers do not have a clue as to how to treat or what to do until a trained medical professional arrives.

I certainly don't, besides some vague recollections of splints from Boy Scouts some 30 plus years ago.

This October, TEN was treated to a magical tour of first aid that was eye opening and took the mystery out of many potential hazards for our students.

Chayada Klinpongsa, International Affairs Coordinator of Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, a respected and experienced nurse, led the assembled faculty, staff and administrators of TEN on a practical guide to first aid in the classroom.

She started by explaining many of the ‘first aid' misconceptions quite common with the public. Then, she went on to give us an understanding of what blood pressure means. Does anyone really know if 120 over 85 is good or bad?

She showed us how to perform a Heimlich maneuver without breaking someone's ribs. I didn't even know that was possible, but evidently it is quite common for the untrained person to do.

One thing that stood out in my mind was her explanation of cardiac arrest and how it must be treated: ABC

Airway - open and clear
Breathing - make sure it's happening
Circulation - check

When someone is in cardiac arrest the first thing to do is make sure their airway is clear and ask them if they are ok. Then call an EMS technician. Follow this by checking their breathing; look, listen, & feel, and lastly check their circulation.

Nurse Chayada went on to explain the various possible challenges that could face an educator in the classroom. We should call an ambulance when faced with

• A high fever above 40 Celsius
• Convulsions and/or spasms
• Severe headache/blurred vision
• Severe stomach ache/severe diarrhea
• Chest pain/difficulty in breathing
• Unconsciousness/shock/semi-consciousness

How many of us know the above treatment for cardiac arrest? I've looked for statistics on first aid training and teachers, but have been unable to find anything. I'm fairly adept at finding odd bits of info as well. How many teachers are actually trained in first aid? It boggles the mind and I had never really thought about it before this month.

The vast majority of us teach children. We take care of their mental capacity to think, deal with their emotional ups and down, and guide them to make valid choices in life. However, when it comes to the likelihood of being able to be there in their greatest time of need, we are sadly out to lunch.

I can't talk for anyone else, but after this month's TEN, I would feel criminally negligent if I did not get more information and/or training in first aid prior to going back into the classroom.

It doesn't take that much time and we could save a life. Anyone of us could go through the rest of our life knowing we had saved the most precious of things in the universe; someone's child, our student.

If you would like a CPR class at your school, Samitivej Hospital can provide one. The Thai Red Cross Society also provides first aid courses.

What I came away with from this month's Ten is an awareness of just what fragile creatures we really are.

For more information, contact Khun Porntip or check out the Samitivej website.

Upcoming Events

► Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
Thailand Educators Network Event
Nadha Vikitsreth
Systainability Asia and AtKisson Group
Wednesday, 10 November - 18.00-20.30

► More and more, we are being confronted by today's global challenges whether it'd be poverty, starvation, or the ever-looming threats of climate change. Are we, as educators, doing our best in preparing our students for this increasingly complex and uncertain future?

► Discover how you can effectively integrate sustainability education into your classroom teaching, your curriculum and your entire school's operations and management, while at the same time how to enhance holistic and collaborative learning and curriculum standards.
This interactive presentation/discussion aims to answer the following questions:

1. What is Sustainability Education (referred to by UNESCO as Education for Sustainable Development or ESD) and why is it important for mainstream education?
2. How can ESD be integrated into existing curriculum such as IB or AP in an interdisciplinary way and how does it enhance teaching and learning outcomes?
3. What are some effective tools you can use to bring sustainability into your classroom, whatever subject you teach, and into your entire school?

► Thinking Skills
Thailand Educators Network Event
Maxine Ping
ATOC (Acorns to Oaks Children's Centre)
Wednesday, 8 December - 18.00-20.30

► Of all the skills which are taught in schools, both in Thailand and overseas, perhaps the most neglected area is that of ‘Thinking Skills', as it is assumed that these skills develop naturally along with the acquisition of other skills.

This is to a certain extent true, but how much more could be achieved by our students if these skills were to be taught systematically.

Even as adults, we can benefit from learning and practicing these skills to enrich our lives and enhance our career prospects.

► Maxine, a long time devotee and practitioner of teaching thinking skills, will introduce practical ways of improving your own skills and those of your students in a lively interactive workshop session.

► Meeting Details

TEN events start at 6.00 pm; mini-lectures at 6.40 pm
Non-member - THB 380, Members - THB 280, Includes one drink and snacks
TEN Meets at the Roadhouse Barbecue, Surawong at Rama IV

For more information e-mail me or check out the TEN website. You can also call me on 081 834 8982


Great post! Thanks for this very interesting and very useful post. I'll be waiting for your next wonderful post just like you did before. Keep it up! =)

By Cyrill, http://abfu.dk/foerstehjaelpskursus_1.php (10th December 2010)

HI Tom - well since i've just seen this info, naturally I must present the idea to our dean. Perhaps the local Red Cross can offer a nurse who speaks English, therefore the class would be taught in English. This is what I'm refering to as 2 birds, one stone.

By Kanadian, Jiangxi (3rd November 2010)


are you talking about installing First Aid kits in your school in China? Can I ask how this would enable you to "kill two birds with one stone" then?

Are you planning to use the kits as realia for an English lesson? Just curious.



By Tom Tuohy, Saudia Arabia (3rd November 2010)

wonderful idea ! I may ask my dean if we can do that same thing here. But in English. If it's possible, I can kill 2 birds with one stone.

By Kanadian, Jiangxi China (3rd November 2010)

Hi Tim,

I think this is a useful article for many who ply their trade in classrooms in Thailand. I was one of those teachers who hadn't a clue about first aid or general medical awareness in emergency situations until recently.

Fortunately, in Thailand I never had to deal with any medical mishaps although in Saudi, I have had to deal with two, and they have made me more aware of being ready to deal with such emergencies.

The first was in Dammam when a student, an air force cadet, had an epileptic fit in the classroom. The others were laughing mostly, and I had to get the poor guy into the recovery position myself and make sure he was not going to bang his head on any of the classroom desks and chairs. My eyes were also opened by the level of ignorance of this most common of ailments as none of the students were willing to help without me having to shout at them.

The second was only last semester when a student literally keeled over and hit his head on the floor while in conversation with me. As it was the start of a class, there were no other students there to help, so I got help next door from another teacher. It turns out that he had been walking around in the hot sun, with temperatures around 50+ degree and had a case of sunstroke. Now the college has installed first aid kids throughout the buildings so something positive has come of it.

Thanks for highlighting an important issue that rarely gets a mention.

By Tom Tuohy, Saudia Arabia (29th October 2010)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

Teacher of Business Studies

฿92,000+ / month


Head Teacher

฿55,000+ / month


English Conversation Teachers

฿35,000+ / month


NES Kindergarten Teacher

฿48,000+ / month


NES Grade 4 Math and Science Teacher

฿40,000+ / month

Chiang Mai

Elementary Teacher

฿50,000+ / month


Featured Teachers

  • Ailyn

    Filipino, 44 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Artem

    Russian, 34 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Jennifer

    Filipino, 33 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Christy

    Filipino, 30 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Tsz

    Hongkonger, 25 years old. Currently living in Hong Kong

  • Anne

    Filipino, 22 years old. Currently living in Philippines

The Hot Spot

The Region Guides

The Region Guides

Fancy working in Thailand but not in Bangkok? Our region guides are written by teachers who actually live and work in the provinces.

Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.

Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?

Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.

Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.

The cost of living

The cost of living

How much money does a teacher need to earn in order to survive in Thailand? We analyze the facts.

The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?

Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!