PLAYING POLITICS WITH CHILDREN

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Could the life of young Nathaniel Findley have been saved? That’s the question being asked over the last several days as the education sector and the country grapples with the untimely passing of the youngster. The nine year old reportedly suffered a seizure in class at the Guaico Government Primary School one week ago but died at hospital sometime later the same day. That’s as much as we know to be factual regarding this very sad situation because there seems to be a lot of unanswered questions and vague information otherwise.

The mother of the child is reportedly saying that he was left unattended where he fell for about half an hour before he was taken to hospital. It was also alleged that the faculty didn’t want to attend to him for fear of being penalised if things go wrong. The school however is reporting that procedure was followed and paramedics were called. But did they arrive in a timely manner? Why then was the child transported to Sangre Grande Hospital with his mother in a teacher’s vehicle? Some of these questions and other grey areas need to be cleared up as this matter is too serious to be swept under the carpet like so many other issues.

The Chief Education Officer in the Education Ministry says proper protocol was followed by the school. But we are still waiting to find out exactly what ‘proper procedure’ is. Clearly, it wasn’t enough to save the life of a little kid suffering a seizure. Our guess is that we are still dependant on an ambulance service that has always been grossly inefficient and inadequate and in numerous cases has resulted in the loss of life. And while that blanket procedure of calling an ambulance might work at times, the proximity of a school or anyone in medical distress to the nearest hospital must also be taken into consideration.

The Education Ministry must clear the air over this matter. Its policy for dealing with medical emergencies must be revealed and if found to be lacking, which is most likely the case, it must be adjusted. With teachers having to purchase regular school supplies from their pockets because none is provided otherwise, it is highly unlikely that we would ever see the day when a medical professional is stationed at every government school. In the meantime, shouldn’t there be someone who has basic medical training at schools rather than waiting for paramedics who may never arrive? Little Nathaniel’s passing should be the last time that a family ever has to endure such pain that was possibly avoidable. Let’s see who takes that to the political platform.