Parents, experts and school administrators are calling for compulsory first-aid training for school staff to ensure children receive immediate care in an emergency.
There are no regulations requiring training, only that schools have a minimum number of healthcare professionals on site.
In Dubai, that means one full-time nurse and one part-time doctor for schools with up to 1,000 children, one full-time nurse and two full-time doctors for schools with up to 2,000 children, and two full-time nurses for every 1,000 children for schools with more than 2,000 pupils.
In Abu Dhabi, public schools have one nurse for every 650 students. In the Northern Emirates, the requirement is at least one nurse, one doctor and one on-call psychologist for every school.
Experts say this level of staffing with first aid knowledge is insufficient in an emergency.
Rebecca Smith, a certified first aid trainer and a UK-educated paediatric nurse working with Safe Hands UAE, a family services company in Dubai, said it was dangerous for schools to rely on nurses.
“The school nurse can’t be everywhere at once, so if anything happened to more than one child at one time, I don’t know how they would handle such a situation,” she said. “We’ve found that many schools were relying on their nurses and those who were certified were not refreshing their certificates, which should be done every two years.
“CPR techniques are constantly changing and need to be updated.”
School administrators agreed. Gitu Dasani, the science coordinator at the Indian High School’s junior campus, said relying on school nurses and the doctor might not be sufficient in an emergency situation. She said it was essential that teachers were properly trained.