Each elementary school classroom contains a first aid backpack, usually red and marked with a red cross. These "Red Backpacks" are intended to be immediately accessible in case of an emergency. The backpack also accompanies the class on field trips.
Backpacks contain emergency supplies, emergency I.D. cards ("yellow cards") with badge holders (plastic bags with yarn), and supplementary items, usually small morale-builders such as playing cards, markers, or chewing gum.
When handling the backpacks, even if you are not checking the yellow cards, keep in mind that these cards may contain sensitive information. Handle with respect and in strict confidentiality.
You'll need a current backpack inventory sheet, one copy for each backpack you inspect. Your principal will supply this to you, or you can download it at the bottom of this page.
Ordinarily, you'll find that backpack contents are complete and intact, less some consumable supplies like small bandages, and minus some items due to plain wear-and-tear. You may be able draw replacements from the general emergency supplies or, if there is no surplus there, give your principal a list of replenishment supplies required. Ask your principal to let you know when the replacement supplies have arrived, and arrange to distribute them to the backpacks promptly. At this point you can check off deficiencies you previously marked on the inventory sheets.
Inform your principal immediately if you find any unusual condition, or if you can't find a backpack where one is supposed to be.
Here's a checklist:
- Have you contacted your principal early in the year --better- before the start of school?
- Have you had a discussion of her/his expectations?
- Have you agreed on a schedule?
- Do you have the information you need to do the job?
- Is each backpack accessible, preferably adjacent to the front door of the classroom?
- Will it be accessible after a strong earthquake? (Could something fall and block access to it?)
- Can it be picked up immediately, without interference from other objects?
- Is it in a reasonably secure location? (Would someone tampering with it be visible?)
- Is each backpack labeled correctly, i.e., with the classroom number and/or teacher name?
- Is it in good repair? (Will it rip if it is used roughly, say, in an emergency?)
- Is the main zipper working smoothly?
- Is it overstuffed?
- Does each backpack contain everything on the inventory sheet?
- Are the items packed securely and neatly?
- Are any of the items damaged?
- Are any sterile seals broken?
- Have any of the dated items past their expiration dates?
- Any items leaking?
- Does the flashlight work work when the batteries are installed?
- Are the flashlight batteries removed and packed separately to prevent corrosion?
- Are all substitutions for inventory items fully equivalent to the originals?
- Are optional items (gum, playing cards, etc.) included within reasonable size and weight limits?
- Are there any inappropriate items?
- Have you checked backpacks in supplementary educational rooms, media centers, etc?
Overall -- Final -- Follow-up
- Does each backpack meet your standards as a basis for caring for your child?
- Does it inspire confidence in the preparedness and response efforts?
- Have you signed and dated a report for each backpack you've inspected, and submitted it to the principal?
- Have you taken care of required replenishment and re-submitted the report, marked appropriately?
Aren't the backpacks simply part of the emergency supplies, just stored in classrooms instead of the cargo container?
Yes. But it simplifies your job to think of them as independent. In practice, that's the way it works -- you'll probably work with the backpacks or the cargo container (or other storage), but not both at the same time.
Shouldn't we avoid replenishing backpacks from the main supplies in the cargo containers?
In practice, most of the items that need replenishing are minor first aid items, like small bandages and these can be drawn from the cargo container as long as there's a surplus there. Usually, there is. If not, ask the principal to order more and replenish both the backpacks and the container surplus.
Can there be too many "optional items"?
Yes, if the red backpack becomes overstuffed. On the other hand, these items are invaluable for relieving boredom during drills or as distractions and comfort items during a real emergency. It might be a good idea to use a second bag for optional items and solicit contributions from parents, especially in support of younger children.
Are the red backpack contents sufficient?
The current redback inventory represents a compromise solution to a difficult problem. Teachers who don't have advanced first-aid training may benefit from more extensive supplies. A heavier or bulkier backpack will be more difficult to store accessibly -- and will be left behind more often. Cost is a big issue, both to initially equip and to maintain.
(click on icon to download)
|Backpack Inventory Form
"bif.pdf" ??? Mb