Making first aid first priority
CRAIG HARTLEY, manager of the Cape Town branch of St John South Africa, explains how to approach first aid and why it is a business imperative.
In the simplest terms, first aid is help given in an emergency by first responders to preserve life, prevent an injury, illness or a situation from becoming worse, and to promote recovery. It is important for first aiders to realise that they are the very first link in the provision of care to those who are injured or sick – whether in the workplace or at home.
What are the key steps to follow when a first-aid situation arises?
1. Survey the scene to ensure that you have made the area safe, and determine the number of casualties and types of injuries. With this information, you will be able to decide on the kind of help required and devise an action plan to influence a positive outcome.
2. Ensure that you deal with life-threatening injuries or ailments first – such as breathing emergencies, cardiac arrest and severe bleeding.
3. Check if there are any secondary injuries that will need attention. These could be fractures, minor bleeding and any other injury or ailment.
4. Provide ongoing casualty care, which comprises supportive care to ensure that you minimise shock and monitor the condition of the casualty while waiting for emergency services.
How should employees handle the situation if a first-aid officer is not immediately available?
People must think logically when confronted with an emergency, whether trained as first aiders or not. The most important principle for the employee is to ensure their own safety and that of the casualty. Calling for help is as important as knowing or having emergency numbers available when required. Those providing help should always keep calm and act in such a way as to ensure a positive outcome.
How can a company ensure it has the correct first-aid kits for its requirements?
Companies must not only ensure that they have trained first aiders in place for each work shift, but also that they have access to the necessary equipment. There are regulations that govern minimum requirements in terms of first-aid equipment. Companies must also be aware that there may be additional requirements, depending on the industry in which they operate.
It is, therefore, important that risks are regularly assessed and mitigating strategies are put in place. These strategies include equipment requirements.
St John has a range of these regulation first-aid kits to equip first aiders to deal with emergencies and keep companies on the right side of the law.
How often should a first-aid kit be “refreshed”?
It is important that there is a policy and procedure in place governing equipment replenishment. A key person must be appointed to monitor equipment levels and there must be reports and controls on equipment usage.
First-aid kits should be sealed if replenished. If the seal is broken, there should be a report detailing how and why the seal was broken. Collating these reports will facilitate replenishment of equipment.
Relevant controls are important to prevent abuse of equipment and shrinkage that could be very costly to the company. A lack of the appropriate equipment could lead to death and law suits.
St John South Africa is a recognised provider of first-aid training and equipment necessary to mitigate risk in the workplace.
It is important for employers to determine their risks. St John assists numerous clients in a variety of industries in putting together risk-reducing strategies to minimise loss of life due to workplace accidents.
For more than 130 years, the organisation has been providing solutions to communities and companies to ensure that they respond to emergencies in an appropriate way.