For all those first aiders out there, St John’s Ambulance has just issued new guidance this week on first-aid.

The emphasis is on the first-aider, as well as the patient. Keeping up to date with information, keeping themselves safe and protecting their own situation are now more important than ever.

Full details can be found here, but importantly their CPR advice now includes very strict guidance that the “kiss of life” as it is colloquially known, or rather more accurately Rescue Breaths, are now too dangerous to carry out under Covid-19. They suggest covering the victim’s face or mouth and nose with a towel, calling for help and carrying out other CPR measures until an ambulance arrives.

Their advice for all first aiders is summed up as:

  • Be aware of the risks to yourself and others
  • Keep yourself safe
  • Give early treatment
  • Keep yourself informed and updated
  • Remember your own needs

In the current climate with the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, these skills become even more important. They then go on to advise how to apply these skills when managing a first aid incident.

The advice urges all first aiders to observe social distancing and safety measures, while nevertheless balancing the risk with the need to resuscitate a patient that may be in trouble from a heart, or breathing problem.

Handwashing with soap and water, or alcoholic gel are urged before and after any contact with the patient, in line with all current guidelines on keeping ourselves safe.

Sadly, their very excellent poster has not been updated, so it is inadvisable to use it.

Their advice does not go into detail on other minor first aid treatments, such as bandaging or removing a foreign object from an eye, all of which is hard to do with current social distancing rules.  So, review the normal type and frequency of first aid activities that you have.  If first aid support is regularly required, then extra PPE should probably be issued out to your first aiders to wear to give them the confidence and reassurance to want to continue offering their services.  It is probably best not to force a person to continue being a first aider if they would prefer not to, during the current pandemic as these are almost always voluntary roles.

The HSE has announced COVID-19 revisions

If there are fewer people coming into your workplace, it may still be safe to operate with reduced first aid cover. You could also stop higher risk activities, and the HSE suggest you could consider sharing first aid cover with another business, providing there is a good exchange of the type of first aid requirements each site may need. 

First aid certificate extensions

If your employees hold a first aid certificate that expires on or after 16 March 2020, and cannot access requalification training because of coronavirus, you may qualify for a 3-month extension. This applies to:

  • Offshore Medic (OM)
  • Offshore First Aid (OFA)
  • First Aid at Work (FAW)
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)

To qualify for the extension, employers must be able to explain why their employees have not been able to requalify, and demonstrate what steps you have taken to access training for them, if asked to do so. 

Our Consultants would be pleased to advise you on any element of the issues arising from this newsletter.