The central aims of first aid are to promote recovery, prevent the person’s condition from worsening and to preserve life.
Accidents both large and small can take place anywhere, from the workplace to the home, and having the skills to tend to someone who is injured or unwell not only brings relief; it could potentially save their life.
Of all the skills you can learn throughout your life, first aid is one of the most valuable, and while the hope is that you will never need it, it can be reassuring to know that if a situation should ever arise where you do, you’ll be well prepared. It’s also important to be able to make a quick assessment of the situation and to be aware of your role and responsibilities as a first aider.
What kind of skills can you learn?
First aid courses can be taken via a number of providers nationwide, including Sheffield First Aid Courses, which offers FAIB accredited first aid courses in Sheffield (if you are based in the North of England).
Typically, a first aid course involves a combination of theory and practical sessions teaching you how to deal with a range of situations, including how to make a quick assessment using the following points:
This involves assessing as to whether you or the casualty are in any danger and if it’s safe to approach them including whether protective equipment, or PPE is required. This might apply in situations where the casualty has a highly contagious illness.
When dealing with a first aid situation it is essential to protect yourself first - and to protect others from infection or further injury. In all cases you must wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer before attempting to treat a casualty.
You then need to determine the cause of the accident and number of casualties at the site. If you are unable to make sure the area is safe, you will need to contact the emergency services for help by dialling 999 or 112.
In order to determine what action you then need to take, it’s important to quickly find out what happened, the number of people involved and whether the incident involved any children or older people. If there is more than one casualty you need to make a quick judgement to see who needs treatment in order of priority, and whether there are any other first aiders present who can help.
Comfort and reassurance
Typically, first aid training also involves knowing how to comfort and reassure a casualty in a calm, clear and assertive manner by introducing yourself and keeping them informed of what is happening while treating them with respect and dignity at all times. This can also help to de-escalate stressful situations, especially if the casualty is feeling some level of distress.
Types of Injury
It can also help to be aware of the most likely injuries or illnesses you might come across in cases where first aid is required. Splinters, sunburns, nosebleeds and sprains are quite common, as are cuts, scrapes, bites or stings and burns or scalds.
If there is a wound you must never breathe, sneeze, cough over it, or touch it without gloves. A clean plastic bag is acceptable, or asking the casualty to dress the wound if they can. As part of your first aid training you will also be taught how to use the primary and secondary surveys to learn how to deal with potentially life-threatening situations. You can also learn how to perform techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or how to treat someone who has had a heart attack.
Where might you need to offer first aid?
Accidents happen anywhere, and first aid is an incredibly useful set of skills to have, enabling you to help those in pain or distress.
According to the ROSPA, the home is the most common place for an accident to occur, with approximately 6000 people dying each year as a result, mainly children under the age of five or adults over 65. Statistically more women over 65 die as a result of an accident at home, though in children boys tend to have more accidents than girls.
Most of these take place in the living room or lounge and tend to involve a trip or fall, and the risk of these tends to increase in adults as they get older. In addition to putting preventative safety measures in place (such as mobility aids and effective home layout), it is useful to know what to do in case of an accident.
If someone had a fall, knowing first aid would enable them to know how to position the person correctly to avoid further injury and to make them more comfortable, in addition to knowing how to treat sprains or broken bones.
In the workplace
As in the home, trips, slips and falls tend to be the most common type of workplace accident according to HSE (with injuries due to lifting, handling or carrying coming second). In work environments, typically some form of insurance is recommended in addition to first aid training.
In addition to having designated first aiders in the workplace, it can help to maximise the number of trained first aiders available in case the person who would normally administer first aid is on annual or sick leave.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the subsequent Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, employers have a statutory duty to supply designated first aiders on the premises, who must undertake training to an approved standard in a specific range of competencies.
Disclaimer: while this article contains information pertaining to legal situations surrounding first aid, it is not written by a legal expert. For further information on this topic, you can find information via the .gov website. Key points regarding steps taken to deal with an emergency come from St. John’s Ambulance and are not a substitute for medical advice. For more information, please visit their website.
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