FIRST AID DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
This article will tell you about the changes made to First Aid procedures during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
It is important that the new ways of giving First Aid are followed to protect yourself and others. The article covers first aid requirements in non-healthcare settings during the pandemic, guidance for First Aiders, first aid cover and training at this current time.
The information from this article has been taken from the ‘HSE website’.
First Aid In Non-Healthcare Settings
The guidance below has been given by the HSE to help employers ensure first aiders are confident that they can help someone injured or ill at work during the pandemic.
They advise that you should check your first aid needs assessment first. As an employer all companies have had to review their risk assessments and include working during the pandemic. The HSE states that all employers should consider refreshing their first aid at work documentation. They also state that you should ask your first aiders if there are any factors that should be taken into account as part of your risk assessment, These could be vulnerable workers with first aid responsibilities. The risk assessment should be discussed with your first aiders, so they are confident about providing the right assistance if needed. This is to include knowing what equipment they can use to minimise risk of infection transmission.
Guidance for First Aiders
The HSE have advised that First Aiders should try and follow the below steps:
- Try to assist at a safe distance from the casualty as much as you can and minimise the time you share a breathing zone.
- If they are capable, tell them to do things for you, but treating the casualty properly should be your first concern. It is important that the 3 P’s are followed, preserve life, prevent worsening, promote recovery.
CPR – (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
- Call 999 immediately – tell the call handler if the patient has any COVID-19 symptoms.
- Ask for help. If a portable defibrillator is available, ask for it.
- Before starting CPR, to minimise transmission risk, use a cloth or towel to cover the patient’s mouth and nose, while still permitting breathing to restart following successful resuscitation.
- If available, use:
- a fluid-repellent surgical mask
- disposable gloves
- eye protection
- apron or other suitable covering
- Only deliver CPR by chest compressions and use a defibrillator if available – do not do rescue breaths.
Other injuries or illnesses:
- If you suspect a serious illness or injury, call 999 immediately – tell the call handler if the patient has any COVID-19 symptoms.
- If giving first aid to someone, you should use the recommended equipment listed above if it is available.
- You should minimise the time you share a breathing zone with the casualty and direct them to do things for you where possible.
After delivering any first aid:
- Ensure you safely discard disposable items and clean reusable ones thoroughly.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser as soon as possible.
First Aid Cover During the Pandemic
If first aid cover for your business is reduced because of coronavirus or you cannot get the first aid training you need, there are some things you can do so that you still comply with the law.
- You should review your first aid needs assessment and decide if you can still provide the cover needed for the workers that are present and the activities that they are doing.
- If fewer people are coming into your workplace it may still be safe to operate with reduced first aid cover. High risk activities could also be stopped to reduce the risk of accidents therefore reducing the need of First aid needed to be given.
- Share first aid cover with another business – The HSE have also suggested that companies could share first aiders of another business, but they must be sure that they have the knowledge, experience, and availability to cover the first aid needs of your business.
Shared first aiders must:
- Be aware of the type of injuries or illnesses that you identified in your first aid needs assessment and have the training and skills to address them.
- Know enough about your work environment and its first aid facilities.
- Be able to get to the workplace in good time if needed.
- Whoever provides the temporary cover must make sure they do not adversely affect their own first aid cover.
Annual Refresher Training
If first aiders are unable to receive their annual refresher training face to face during the COVID-19 Pandemic the HSE supports, the use of online refresher training to keep their proficiencies up to date. Although this is the case for First Aid refresher training the HSE still strongly recommends that the practical elements of actual First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work and requalification courses are delivered face to face, so that the competency of the student can be properly assessed.
If because of coronavirus you cannot complete training for your first aid qualification within the usual timeframe, training can restart at a later date if:
- a full recap of training delivered before the interruption is done before moving onto undelivered modules.
- the training provider is content that you can show:
- a full understanding of all aspects of the course content
- the knowledge required and competencies at the end of the training.
The HSE always strongly recommends that workplace first aiders undertake annual refresher training. If first aid training or requalification during the coronavirus outbreak has not included practical training and assessment for giving rescue breaths, employers should ensure that this is included in the next refresher course.
This is the current guidance provided by the HSE, it will continue to be reviewed as transmission and infection rates improve.
Further Information & Support
For further information on this subject can be found by clicking here. It will take you to the First aid section on the ‘HSE website’.
For more information on giving CPR during the COVID-19 pandemic click here. This will take you directly to the ‘Resuscitation Council UK Website’.
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