Cherry Creek Schools is one of the only districts in Colorado to have a school nurse in every building. These highly trained medical professionals are dedicated to keeping students safe, healthy and ready to learn. They’re also committed to protecting the well-being of everyone in their school community, including staff and even school visitors. Every day, school nurses must be ready to respond to everything from minor injuries and illnesses to major accidents and emergencies. In order to do that, they must have the proper tools and supplies close at hand.
That’s why members of the Cherry Creek School District’s Health Services Department are spending part of the summer replacing and improving the district’s school trauma bags, which are more than a decade old.
“The old bags were heavy and hard to carry and overstuffed,” said CCSD Resource Nurse Patti Rojec. She worked with fellow resource nurses Michelle Weinraub and Jennifer Ellerbroek to develop a better school trauma bag.
“We sat down with a work group of nurses from all levels – high school, middle school, elementary and preschool – and talked about what we would need and what would make sense for nurses at each level,” Rojec said.
The group decided on a two-bag system. The first bag is a backpack that a school nurse can easily carry to an emergency in another part of the building or on the playground. The backpacks are organized to make it easy for nurses to find what they need quickly. One side contains common emergency medications: epinephrine for allergic reactions, an albuterol inhaler for people with asthma and a quick-acting glucose for diabetics with low blood sugar. The other side contains the equipment a nurse would need to assess a patient’s condition: a stethoscope, a thermometer, a blood pressure cuff and more.
“It’s practical, functional and useful,” said Brian Kornreich, the school nurse at Overland High School. “We’re not only thinking about what’s in the bag, but also how and where it goes in the bag and it’s standardized for the whole district.” Kornreich explained that standardizing the bags makes it easier for substitute nurses to fill in when necessary.
The second bag is a sturdy roller bag that contains additional supplies that might be needed in the event of a school evacuation or an emergency with multiple injuries. Though the bags are new, most of the items inside them are being reused.
“We are taking the supplies that were in our old bags and repurposing them in a way that makes sense for the new bags,” Rojec said. “We’re reusing what we already had – we’re just putting it together in a smarter way.”
The new trauma bags will be delivered to schools before classes begin. Elementary and middle schools each get one backpack and one roller bag. Large high schools get two sets of bags.
“We are very fortunate to have this resource in every school,” said Suzanne Oro, Director of Health Services for Cherry Creek Schools. “Our school nurses now have an even greater ability respond rapidly and effectively to any emergency situation.”