First Aid Course
First aid can be defined as emergency care or treatment that is provided to an ill or injured person before medical assistance can be provided. In addition, this can further be extended by noting the basic responsibilities of any first aid certified individual who provides workplace emergency care:
- They preserve life by preventing the injured person from dying by applying basic ABC, relating to Airway, Breathing, Circulation.
- They prevent the situation from worsening by treating the injuries of the person, managing the scene and incident.
- Promoting recovery by trying to help the injured person feel better and keeping them calm by providing emotional support.
A first aid course can provide employees with different levels of first aid skill, with First Aid Level 1 as the basic requirement in South Africa, referring to a life-skills course that allows the first aid certified person to assist in an emergency.
In addition to this, basic first aid knowledge can help people aid others outside of the workplace as well. First Aid Level 1 is a life-skills course that cannot provide an individual with a guarantee that they will be employed in certain workplaces.
However, workplace first aid is becoming a prerequisite in certain industries that can add to the overall skills portfolio of the individual. Some of the most common occupations in South Africa where First Aid Level 1 is a prerequisite is as follows:
- Building contractors
- Childcare givers
- Mining contractors
- Safety Representatives
- Sports Coaches, and several others.
The benefits of attending a first aid course include the following:
- There is an inherent need for a first aider in every business in South Africa according to laws and regulations, regardless of the industry.
- A first aid course will teach individuals skills that they can use in emergencies.
- It provides an additional skill to the CV of the individual
- It allows individuals to offer help and assistance outside of work
During a first aid course, individuals can expect to learn a mix of theory and practical work. First aid certified individuals can:
- Examine an emergency, incident, or accident scene
- They can provide basic life support to the affected individual
- They can overcome a life-threatening situation
- They will be able to treat burns
- They can assist a choking individual
- They will learn the importance and principles relating to first aid and emergency response
- They will be taught the appropriate first aid procedures that can be used in case of an emergency
- Individuals will learn the anatomy of the human body and organ systems
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First Aid Training
First aid refers to immediate care that is given to an injured or an ill person either until they recover or until medical services arrive to take over. First aid training is one of the most important tools in any workplace that can involve some of the following actions:
- Dealing with small cuts, abrasions, and soft tissue injuries
- Dealing with sprains and strains
- Administering CPR and alleviating choking
- Helping with minor headaches/flu symptoms
- Bandaging a wound
- Applying a splint and a sling
In addition to these, first aid training also aims to teach employees the following:
- How to survey and assess the scene of an accident, emergency, or an incident
- How to identify an injury
- How to apply life-saving techniques
- How to deal with an unconscious individual
- How to control bleeding
- How to control and manage distress and trauma
- How to use essential first aid equipment
- How to treat minor injuries and prevent further injury
To determine the first aid needs of a company, employers must carry out a first aid risk assessment to consider:
- The organisation’s size and nature of business
- The employees who may be at risk for certain hazards and risks
- The number of first aid kits and first aiders
- Hazardous areas that need additional care and emergency equipment, and more.
First aid training does not come in one holistic package, but consists of three different comprehensive first aid courses that can be attended, namely:
First Aid Level 1
Those who have attended this first aid course can effectively assess emergencies to provide basic life support in addition to basic first aid. This type of first aid treatment can assist patients and stabilise them until emergency services arrive.
First aid certified persons who have attended the first level can demonstrate a fundamental understanding of emergency scene management. In addition, they will also understand the basic anatomy and physiology, assess an emergency, and apply basic first aid.
The first aid modules that are covered in the first level include the following comprehensive topics:
- Emergency scene management
- Primary survey
- Secondary surveys
- Respiratory distress
- Chocking and blocked airways
- Circulatory shock
- Wounds and bleeding
- Burns and fractures, and several others.
First Aid Level 2
First Aid Level 2 is especially useful for employees and individuals to provide first aid in response to incidents, accidents, and emergencies in the workplace. It is an intermediate first aid course that provides individuals with extensive knowledge and skills that can be used in emergency care.
The second level covers more detailed components including the treatment of paediatric patients and two-rescuer CPR. Level 2 teaches the individual to work systematically, effectively, and efficiently.
Some of the components of Level 1 is revised and revisited and the first aid certified individual will also be able to assess and address joint injuries, chest and eye injuries, abdominal pelvic injuries, and the management of multiple injuries.
- In addition, this level also covers:
- Environmental illnesses as well as injuries
- Poisoning, bites, and stings
- Chest pain, diabetes, epilepsy, and convulsions
- Drowning and diving accidents
- Elementary and applied anatomy along with physiology
- Rescue carries
- Emergency equipment
First Aid Level 3
First Aid Level 3 is the most advanced first aid course and the highest first aid level that an individual can achieve. Level 3 offers extended emergency care subjects and procedures, with modules and topics that cover the following:
- Revision of level 1 and 2 first aid content
- Emergency childbirth
- Water-related emergencies
- Behavioural emergencies
- Special patients and emergency oxygen therapy
- Practical demonstrations and practical exercises
- Written tests and practical exams
Benefits of First Aid Training in the workplace
Workplace first aid training has several benefits for both employees as well as employers.
The benefits that first aid training holds for employers related to the following:
- Faster response times during emergencies
- Reduction of incidents in the workplace
- Improved positivity in the workplace
Faster Response Times
When employees know what to do when an emergency occurs, they can respond faster, and this could save countless lives. Employees who have received workplace first aid training can understand the steps that they must take when an emergency occurs.
Quick responses can inevitably reduce the overall recovery time from injuries, and it could also lead to reduced lost time because of injuries.
Reduction of Incidents
First aid training helps employees become more aware of the environment in which they work, helping them identify potential hazards and risks before an injury or incident can occur. By becoming more aware, employees can help to minimize hazards that could turn into direct risks to health and safety.
Employers who make first aid training available to their employees will display care of duty towards health and safety, which will instil confidence and create a positive attitude in the overall work environment.
Employees who feel that their employer is putting in the necessary effort to safeguard their safety will be more loyal to their employer, which can reduce employee turnover and absenteeism.
The benefits that first aid training holds for employers related to the following:
- A safer workplace
- Safety at home
- Safety while working alone
A Safety Working Environment
Employees are safeguarded if an incident or accident occurs because they know that they can receive prompt treatment. A safer working environment where there is a quick response to an emergency is an attractive benefit for employees.
Safety away from work
First aid is not only a necessary skill in the workplace but an overall useful life skill that can be used in any given emergency. First aid certified individuals can assist anyone who is involved in an incident or an accident outside of work, helping them until medical services can take over.
Safety for lone or remote workers
First aid training can equip employees on how to use first aid kits and how to remain calm and in control during an emergency. These are essential skills that help employees treat co-workers in addition to themselves if they sustain a minor injury such as a cut, burn, abrasion, or so on.
First Aid Certification
The Regulations involved with the Occupational Health and Safety Act of South Africa outlines the typical duties that employers have to their employees. This includes providing information, instructions, training, and supervision to ensure that employees’ health and safety are a top priority.
This also includes the provision of trained personnel on the premises who can assist when there is an incident, accident, or any other emergency. Where there are 10 employees, or more, stationed in a specific workplace, the employer must appoint a first aider.
This is a legal appointment according to the OHSA and the individual must be readily available during working hours. The employer must ensure that work schedules and employee distribution is in such a way that there is always an appointed, qualified first aider on duty.
Where shops and offices are concerned, a first aider must be appointed for every 100 employees and all other working environments must have a first aider per 50 employees. The first aider appointed must have a valid first aid certificate, issued upon completion of the first aid course.
This certificate is valid for 3 years and the employer must ensure that their employees receive some refresher training at least once a year to ensure that employees can act promptly. One of the reasons why the first aid certificate expires revolves around the fact that skills that are not practised can be forgotten.
Every three years, first aiders must attend the course again to ensure that they retain working knowledge of their training, allowing them to remain updated with current first aid guidelines as well as procedures.
First aid considerations
Employers must provide their employees with the necessary instructions and information that they need, especially if it relates to their health and safety. Emergency preparedness is such a topic and where first aiders are concerned, employees must know the following:
- Only a first aid certified individual, or employee can assist a patient or affected person. Employees who are not certified are not allowed to provide medical assistance.
- Employees must know how to respond when an incident occurs and this involves emergency procedures, the injuries to report, who to call for help, what to do until medical services arrive, and so on.
- Employees must know where to find emergency equipment
- Every workplace must contain a list that shows the appointed first aider’s name and contact information in addition to the numbers for medical and emergency services.
- There must be a list that indicates the closest medical facilities
- The location and the list of telephone numbers of key personnel of the company
First Aid Procedures and Hazard Assessments
Part of the first aid procedures and emergency management involves that the first aiders attend hazard assessments according to their workplace. A hazard assessment will prepare the first aiders for any incidents and accidents that can occur in their specific workplace.
Some of the considerations in assessing workplaces to determine first aid needs and responses include:
- Chemicals that require specific procedures as well as emergency equipment such as eye-wash stations, showers, antidotes, and so on.
- Crowd control procedures if an emergency occurs along with an effective emergency evacuation procedure
- Special needs relate to those who have disabilities, medical conditions, and so on.
- Allergic reactions to medications, food, insect bites, chemicals, materials, and so on.
- Employees who work remotely and who work alone
- The transportation arrangements to a medical facility, the remoteness of the workplace, and response time
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