Following on from conversations with our clients, Southalls has been asked to provide some clarity regarding first aid arrangements during the coronavirus outbreak period.

First Aid cover and Qualifications

The HSE have provided some information on their website regarding the cover of first aid and also the renewal of first aid qualifications which can be found in full in the following link here.

The key points found within this document are as follows:

  • Undertake a first aid needs assessment for your temporary set up – this will allow you to determine your needs during reduced hours set up whilst considering your level of risk which remains i.e. (your hazard level may increase when reducing staff in the workplace due to increased productivity)
  • Consider sharing first aid cover with another business, possibly a neighbouring one. Do ensure that if you do this that, the other business are fully aware of your hazards on site
  • If you hold a first aid certificate that expires on or after the 16th March 2020 and cannot access a re-qualification you will be able to obtain an extension if you can confirm why you could not access retraining and also the steps you have taken to access the training. This includes First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work.
  • If your first aid training has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, training can restart at a later date as long as you liaise with your course provider and can demonstrate that there was a sound understanding of the points covered to date.
Treatment of casualties during social distancing

To provide some clarity for first raiders during the coronavirus pandemic period, Southalls have researched advice from first aid course providers in addition to the requirements for employers as confirmed by the HSE above.

St. Johns Ambulance have provided some really useful information for those providing first aid to injured people during the Covid-19 period and training resources via their website

In summary, the points raised are as follows:

  • Be aware of the risks to yourself and others – Understand that when approaching a casualty, there is always the risk of contamination or potential infection.
  • Is the casualty coughing excessively?
  • If the casualty is symptomatic of Covid-19 can they be moved safely to an isolated room (i.e. first aid room) or can a temporary safe zone around them of at least 2 metres be put in place?
  • You may have to get close enough to check a casualty is breathing
  • Please ensure that you have the appropriate PPE such as gloves, masks where required, a disposable apron
  • ALWAYS Remember, acting fast and giving early first aid can save lives!
  • Keep yourself safe – Make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and use an alcohol-based sanitising gel prior to providing any treatment. 
  • Give early treatment – There are many first aid incidents whereby getting close to a patient to be affected by cough droplets is not always necessary. Sensible precautions will ensure that you are able to treat the casualty effectively. Early treatment is often critical to the outcome.
  • Keep yourself informed – During the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic period, please ensure that you regularly review the advice provided by NHS 111 or the Gov.uk website which has dedicated sections to coronavirus.
  • Remember your own needs – These are challenging and uncertain times for all of us. The coronavirus outbreak has led to significant amounts of worry. It is important  take time to discuss your concerns with someone you trust.
Southalls stance

Whilst considering the advice provided by the HSE and St Johns Ambulance above, we have also looked to provide additional practical advice for employers and first aiders within the workplace which is as follows;

  • Ensure that there is enough PPE for first aiders to utilise including gloves, disposable aprons, masks if required.
  • When dealing with first aid incidents, always be aware of the risks to yourself and others (is the casualty symptomatic i.e displaying signs of coronavirus).
  • Wear gloves or cover hands when dealing with injured persons, particularly those with open wounds.
  • Cover cuts or grazes on your hands or arms with a waterproof dressing.
  • Always dispose of all medical waste safely in medical waste bins.
  • Give early treatment by ensuring that you wear appropriate PPE such as gloves, a disposable apron. Masks can be worn if deemed necessary by the first aider.
  • In the unlikely event of cardiac arrest, DO NOT perform rescue breaths on the casualty. (link)
    • Do not place your face close to the casualty to hear for breathing. Watch the chest.
    • If possible, lay a towel or similar over the nose and mouth.
    • Ensure that CPR is performed using chest compressions and if possible, a defibrillator is available, and trained to do so.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding any of this advice please do not hesitate to contact Southalls on the office number 0345 257 4015 or alternatively email us at help@southalls.com.