Rochester, New York (NewYorkInjuryNews.com) — It is a parent’s worst nightmare! You send your child to school and expect him or her to come home safe. It didn’t happen that way in this case. Like many children of the inner city, Shawn was asthmatic. He lived in Brooklyn and attended PS 20 in Clinton Hill. On February 2003, only weeks after his 11th birthday, Shawn had a serious asthma attack in school. He went to the nurse’s office where the nurse determined 911 should be called and the boy should immediately be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
Inexplicably, it was the school’s policy that only the principal of the school could call 911 in an emergency. (Yes, you read correctly: the policy of the school was that only the principal of the school was allowed to call 911!) The school staff was unable to locate the principal so the nurse’s solution was to call the parents instead. Time passed and Shawn’s mother arrived, picked her son up in a car and took him home. Shawn’s asthma attack continued to get worse, and soon after, the boy died in her arms.
Is this not an unforgivable tragedy? How a school could have such a policy is simply beyond comprehension. Why the nurse didn’t just bypass the principal and call an ambulance when a child’s life was on the line is a question that will haunt Shawn’s mother for the rest of her life.
You may ask: did the parents know the boy was this ill? Of course not. If Shawn’s mother had any idea of how dire the situation was she would have carried her son to the hospital on her own back. It never should have gotten so far. The nurse was the medical expert in charge and she should have gone with her first inclination that an ambulance was needed. It should have been that simple. Had the nurse gone with her initial disposition, there is no question that Shawn would still be alive today.
The phone call the parents should have received ought to have been something along the lines of: “Your son had an asthma attack. We called 911. An ambulance is taking him to the hospital now. Meet him there.” Instead, a lethal and incomprehensible school policy and a cruel and lazy preference to avoid responsibility cost a child his life.