Keeping yourself safe as a First Aider

In line with government advice, make sure you wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after treating any casualty. Make sure you don’t cough or sneeze over the casualty when you are treating them.

In the workplace it is also a good idea to update your First Aid Needs Assessment and to make sure you have enough first aiders on duty. Restock your first aid kits with plenty of disposable gloves and hand sanitiser.

I always keep a wee ‘Covid’ kit in my bag when I’m out and about, just in case. This contains gloves, a disposable face mask, hand-sanitiser, anti-bag wipes, tissues, a flannel and a bag for any waste.

Wearing disposable gloves is best practice for any first aid emergency but ideally a stock of PPE such as face masks, visors and disposable aprons should be made available for all first aiders.

Before providing assistance to another person ask them from a distance (2m) if they are experiencing:

  •  Cough 
  •  Fever 
  •  Lost of or change in sense of smell and/or taste

If you need to assist someone who is unwell and suspected of having COVID-19

  • Ensure you are wearing disposable gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use alcohol hand sanitiser if hand wash facilities are not nearby. Do this before putting on and removing all PPE. 
  • Direct the person to an area or room away from others. If this isn’t possible get others to move away from the area of stay at least 2 metres back.
  • Avoid close or physical contact with the individual.  Only provide First Aid in life threatening situations. Direct the person to help themselves if you can, whilst staying 2m away.
  • Give the individual tissues to cover their mouth and nose if coughing and sneezing. You could also give them a disposable face mask if available.
  • If you do not need to provide further aid to the individual, help them to arrange to return home immediately and advise them to contact 111 for advice if their symptoms do not improve. They should request a Covid test and self isolate as directed by NHS 24.
  • After assisting the individual, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol gel for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose, unless you have cleaned your hands.
  • As soon as possible, shower and change your clothes.
  • Anyone who has been within 2m of the casualty should inform NHS 24 on 111 and follow their advice.

Assisting with minor first aid incidents during the Covid-19 pandemic

  • Direct the person to an area away from others and ensure other people in the area remain at least 2 metres away from the individual. 
  • If the nature of the injury can be dealt with by the individual themselves, eg minor cuts, then provide instructions on the actions they should take and provide any relevant first aid materials for them to self-administer, such as plasters, ice packs, eye wash, etc.
  • You should keep 2 metres distance from the individual as much as possible and avoid close or physical contact with them.
  • Ensure you are wearing disposable gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use alcohol hand sanitiser if hand wash facilities are not nearby. Do this before putting on and removing all PPE. 
  • After assisting the individual, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water at the earliest opportunity. Alcohol hand sanitiser is recommended if soap and water is not available. 
  • Avoid touching eyes or nose, unless you have recently cleaned your hands.

Responding to serious first aid incidents and medical emergencies 

  • Call 999. Tell the call handler if you suspect Covid-19.
  • Ensure you are wearing disposable gloves and other PPE, such as masks, visors and aprons if available.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use alcohol hand sanitiser before putting on and removing all PPE. 
  • Keep bystanders at least 2 metres away.

If you need to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) follow this Resuscitation Council (UK) guidance:

  • Look for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing without getting close to the casualty. Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth. If you are in any doubt as to whether they are breathing normally, start chest compressions until help arrives. 
  • Make sure an ambulance is on its way. Tell the call handler you suspect Covid-19.
  • Place a cloth/towel over the patient’s mouth and nose and attempt compression only (hands only) CPR at a rate of 100-120 per minute. Don’t stop compressions. Put your hands together in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast. 
  • Use a defibrillator (AED) f you have one. This significantly increases the person’s chances of survival and does not increase risk of Covid-19 infection. 
  • Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol sanitiser gel.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose, unless you have cleaned your hands after having contact with the individual.
  • Inform NHS 24 on 111 and follow their advice.
  • Shower and wash clothing at the earliest opportunity.

Cleaning up after giving first aid treatment

  • Keep the area clear of people.
  • In the workplace or business premises, contact the person who arranges normal cleaning services. This may be a manager or reception staff. They should arrange for a deep clean and /or close the area for 72 hours.
  • In public places, contact anyone responsible for managing the area if you know who that is.
  • Dispose of any waste by bagging it twice and securely tying/sealing it.
  • Store any waste for at least 72 hours before putting it into normal waste.