Fears of First Aid
We regularly get learners at our First Aid at Work courses who have worries, or confidence issues about providing First Aid to another person. We tend to call this the ‘Fears of First Aid’. There are many different fears and they can range from everything from a fear of blood to a fear of getting hurt yourself. We like to spend some time during our courses discussing these Fears of First Aid and how to overcome them. Surprisingly, we’ve found one of the most common fears is that you, the first aider, could be sued if the outcome isn’t good.
Despite the fact that no one in the UK has been successfully sued for providing Fist Aid, recent studies conducted by the St John’s Ambulance Service in England found that 34% of respondents would avoid getting involved in an emergency because of concerns about legal repercussions. In response to these perceptions, the UK government introduced the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism (SARAH) Bill in February of 2015. Of course, this doesn’t mean anyone assisting a casualty shouldn’t avoid acting recklessly, but it does mean that courts need to consider if the person was acting with a clear, helpful intent at the time.
To help keep you right, and to help tackle the Fears of First Aid, we’ve compiled a list of five things you can do to improve your confidence and put your mind at ease whilst giving your patient the best possible initial care.
Due to the specifics of each individual emergency scenario, these tips must be considered as general advice only, and are in no way a substitute for the Law as it stands.
1) Introduce Yourself
We can’t really be any simpler than that. Even if your patient appears to be unconscious, you need to introduce yourself to give the patient a chance to respond and also to let anyone else in earshot know what you’re there for.
Say something like, “Hello. My name is ……., I’m a First Aider”. Boom! You’re off to a flyer!
2) Get Consent to Assist
Again, keeping it simple is the best approach. Ask, “Can I help you?” If there is no response, it can be assumed that you have their consent. If they refuse, you must respect their wishes, but you should ensure, as far as is reasonable, that they come to no further harm. If in doubt, contact the emergency services.
3) Call the Emergency Services
This might seem like an obvious one but you’d be surprised to learn just how easy it can be to allow adrenaline or panic to take over and cloud your thinking if you’re not fully in control. With the professionals on the way, you can increase your patient’s chances. So make sure when dealing with your patient, keep asking yourself, “Does this person need an ambulance?”. If you’re not sure, don’t take the risk. Call 999 or 112.
4) Stay within the Scope of your Training
Sure, you may have just watched a box set of Grey’s Anatomy, or an SAS documentary, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean you’re qualified to perform complicated medical procedures on your patient. So no amputations or tracheostomy procedures – you’re not Andy McNab and this isn’t the set of Grey Sloan Memorial! Only do what you’ve been trained to do by a qualified First Aid Instructor and you won’t harm the patient any further.
5) Stay with your patient until help arrives
As you can imagine, a patient, particularly one in a serious condition, would be understandably upset if the person providing assistance to them suddenly ups and leaves the scene before professional help has arrived.
So, while you may not necessarily have a duty of care to offer your assistance in the first place, if you do, you are required to stay with the patient until you’re satisfied they have made a full recovery or are in the capable hands of a professional, e.g. a paramedic or ambulance technician.
And there we have it – five simple steps you can take to keep yourself right when providing First Aid.
You can help improve your knowledge and confidence by attending one of our regularly scheduled First Aid courses. Contact us today for information on how to book a course and learn real, every day, life-saving skills.