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Emergencies in the Classroom

Robert J. Flaherty, MD
Student Health Service
Montana State University

At some point in your academic career, you will have a medical emergency in your classroom. This article should help you cope successfully.


  • Invite your students to confidentially inform you if they have medical conditions that might become apparent during class. These medical conditions could include seizure disorders, asthma, syncope (fainting spells), allergic reactions and severe heart disease.
  • Ask the student how they usually deal with their acute medical problem. They have usually been through an acute attack, and know how you can best assist them.
  • Quite a few college students have been trained as Emergency Medical Technicians or other "first responders", and they would be valuable resources in a classroom emergency. It is likely that at least one such student is in your classroom - don't hesitate to ask them for help.
  • If you do not know Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), take a CPR course through the Red Cross (587-4611), Bozeman Deaconess Hospital (595-5000), or the American Heart Association (800-242-8721). Knowing CPR is important, not only for your students, but for family emergencies as well. If your building has an Automatic External Defibrillator, make sure you know how to use it.
  • If you teach a lab or other class where students could be exposed to hazardous chemicals, make sure you have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) readily available in the lab for each chemical. The MSDS contains very important first aid information that you and the physicians will need to treat an exposed student. Contact the MSU Office of Safety and Risk Management (994-2711) for more information.
  • If a classroom emergency occurs and you are in doubt about how to proceed, call 911.


All students taking seven or more credits automatically pay a Student Health fee at the time of class registration, which allows them to see a SHS health care provider at no charge. There may be, however, a charge for lab and x-ray tests and for medications. Students can make appointments for care, or can be seen on a walk-in basis in the Acute Care area of the SHS.

The SHS is located between the SUB and the EPS building on the east end of campus. During the fall and spring semesters, the SHS is open 8:00am-4:30pm weekdays and 8:00-11:30am on Saturdays. During the summer semester the SHS is open 9:00am-4:00pm weekdays and is closed on weekends. The SHS is open 8:00am-11:30am on weekdays during semester breaks.

The SHS is unable to send staff members to respond to an emergency. If you feel a student needs to be attended to on site, call 911.


The following algorithm will help you respond to the most common classroom emergencies. For emergencies not covered by the algorithm, call the SHS (994-2311) or 911.


Student Health Service - 994-2311

Emergency (Campus Police) - 911 from any campus phone

Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, 915 Highland Blvd. - 595-5000

Bozeman Urgent Care, 1006 W. Main - 586-8711

Family Doctors' Urgent Care, 120 North 19th - 556-9740