A young girl on a field trip runs into a pole at full speed!  She is so hysterical that you can’t even get a good look at the injury.  Her teacher says not to worry; she has a first aid kit, but would appreciate some ice.  What do you do?

Every year we have an annual safety and security workshop at our museum, and every year we have lengthy discussions about what to do when faced with a scenario like the one described above.  The policy at our institution is that if we cannot determine the severity of an injury or illness, we will always call 9-1-1, even if a parent, guardian, or spouse asks us not to.  If no parent or guardian is present, and the victim is under 18, we’ll call 9-1-1 immediately.  We feel it is in our visitors’ best interest to make help available to them if we have even one iota of uncertainty.  Extending this kind of help can also be beneficial if someone ever accuses your organization of being negligent.  Take heart, Good Samaritan laws are there to protect us and make us feel less uneasy about providing aid.  That being said, it’s important to document injuries and illnesses that happen on your grounds.  We use a simple, one-page report form that collects important information such as the name of the individual, the names of witnesses, and a description of what happened.

Safety policies should be clear to all paid and volunteer staff so they feel prepared to act when faced with an uncertain situation.  People can recover from the “embarrassment” of having paramedics hover around them in a crowd; they can’t recover from certain injuries that initially go unseen.  The Red Cross is an excellent resource for organizations like ours.  Not only do we contact them to arrange for classes on providing first aid, administering CPR, and using tools such as AEDs, we also hire their local certified staff to be present at large events.  (Let me tell you, there is no greater comfort to me than knowing that the Red Cross is within arms reach at a festival with over 2,000 people in attendance!)

Do you have any safety policies or tips to share?