Modern Issues of First Aid Training
Timing and Content Issues
When is training provided? For new employees? Once a year? Increase it to include special needs, too. Try to avoid marathon training to get everything done at once and have smaller, more manageable sessions that employees can remember and use.
Is your first aid specifically for your workplace or general in nature? Do you have AEDs on site? Are they all compatible, maintained, and inspected regularly and easy to use?
How about remote crews: Do you offer special training and supplies for them? Do you offer chemical training if there are hazards? What about providing Epi pens and first aid supplies for exposure to critters that bite?
- Updates. Do you maintain consistent training records and keep them current? Do you pay for additional training expertise if employees wish to attend?
- Here is a tough one . . . when to back out and call for help. Floodwater exposure precautions. Ebola awareness. Special body retrieval or waste disposal instructions. Sometimes the higher local authorities need to be the lead when it is not a first aid situation, but something more.
Missing supplies—we as safety inspectors see this on routine inspections. Wall-mounted first aid boxes may have been pilfered due to employee misuse, or supplies are used for legitimate and reported on-the-job injuries and then not restocked for days, months, or ever. Remember, your facility’s readiness just dropped significantly through that false sense of readiness. Open those boxes and check those dates! If you cannot or will not, use a vendor to do it for you and keep the supplies restocked.
Likewise, check for out-of-date or contaminated supplies. Do you really want to use flushing supplies for an eye injury that are five years out of date? How about adhesive bandages that are brittle, paper that has gotten damp or wet or is infested with vermin? Consider that the environment, such as high heat, swinging temperatures, or humidity, can affect these supplies. Check them often. Open a sample to ensure workability. There are few “redo’s” in an emergency situation.
- Appropriate supplies for the job and hazard. Do your employees really have what they need? Forget the code for a moment . . . do what is right. If your employees are potentially exposed to severe cuts, such as from a chainsaw, is the minimum first aid kit enough in a remote location?
- Is the first aid supply or kit portable? If it is wall mounted and your victim is 200 feet away on the floor, there is a problem. Make sure the supply can be moved when needed to the injured person.
- Keeping it clean—sanitize, sanitize, sanitize! Never before have so many products been available in various forms to provide protection. Provide them and use them yourself. Your employees watch you for guidance.
Today’s first aid has to be ready for issues never thought of in years gone by. The good news is the industry has kept up and adapted with an answer to every challenge of sanitation, PPE, documentation, communication, and portability required so far to meet the need. Treating an injured employee is one of the most unpredictable situations and hard to prepare for, so you have to plan for the worst in most cases while watching cost where you can. The good news is survivability has dramatically increased with fast treatment and appropriate training and team oriented attitudes.
Our role as the safety leadership is to advise and assist in prevention through errors in judgment, in the board room, the accounting room, the training room, and the shop floor. We watch, we help, and we analyze to improve service to the extent possible, being proactive while knowing every injury could be much worse. First aid is one of the best programs any site can have and should be a showcase of our safety and emergency management success. We know “bad things” will happen; our job is to lessen the damage, and we have the tools and training to do exactly that superbly.