In any emergency, including a medical emergency, the best response is to be prepared with emergency scene management steps. In organisations, management needs to make sure that in case of a medical emergency the first aiders are trained as per the OHS Act under GSR 3(1) and (4), through an accredited training provider which will enable them to confidently manage first aid emergencies at work. Emergency management is the organisation and management of the resources and people responsible for dealing with most humanitarian aspects of emergencies (prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery).
In any emergency situation, the first thing you need to do is assess the scene and identify any potential hazards.
1. Remain calm and assess the scene
For first aiders responding to a medical emergency at work, they must remain calm so that they are able to assess the scene, what type of assistance will be required and how many casualties there are, including the priorities if there is more than one casualty. Emergency care is immediate medical care that is available, reserved for severe illnesses or injuries, or any medical need that is life-threatening.
2. Check for hazards and provide a safe environment
Firstly, the safety of the first aider is important, so the responding first aiders must always make sure that they are safe before attempting to assist the casualties. Secondly, the scene or the area where the casualty is situated must also be safe, thirdly the bystanders who might not be aware of dangers that could harm them on the scene, and lastly, we now concentrate on the casualty’s safety. When all aspects of danger have been checked and when it is safe to do so, then the treatment of the casualties according to the seriousness of their injuries can commence.
3. Assess the casualty’s condition and provide first aid as necessary
Check the responsiveness of the casualty and tap them on the shoulder. If the victim responds and can hear you, then introduce yourself and ask for consent to treat them. If the victim is unresponsive, open their airway to check for any obstructions they might have and at the same time check for skin colour. The tongue is the most common cause of airway obstruction on an unconscious adult patient, so if they are breathing and have no visible neck or back injuries, then they need to be put into the recovery position. To assess breathing, the first aider must look for chest movement, listen for breathing sounds and feel for warm air coming out of the casualty’s airway.
4. Contact emergency services and provide information
When the first aider checks for breathing and responsiveness and there is none, the emergency services must be contacted, and CPR commenced as soon as possible. If a bystander is available, ask them to assist by calling the emergency services and give them as much information as possible regarding the condition of the casualty. It is very important for the bystander to report back to the first aider and confirm that medical assistance is on its way, and what the estimated time of arrival of the emergency medical team is. They can also assist in bringing an AED to the first aider if one is available.
5. Stay with casualty until professional medical help arrives
The first aider must monitor the casualty until the emergency services arrive. Keep on checking their vital signs every 5 to 10 minutes and record any change that you notice. You must also be prepared to start CPR while you wait for the paramedics. Once they arrive and you hand over the casualty, you must give as much information as possible, explaining how you found the patient, what your treatment was and how the casualty responded to your treatment. If time allows you need to get the casualty’s SAMPLE history (Signs and symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Past medical history, Last meal, Events leading up to injury/illness) so that when you hand them over, you are able to give that information to paramedics or emergency personnel for continued emergency medical care.
Absolute Health Services is an accredited first aid training provider. At Absolute Health Services we don’t just offer first aid training, we can train all emergency team members in first aid, firefighting and evacuation planning. We also provide health and safety work-related advice and training, and can also supply all your first aid related equipment, including first aid boxes and refills of first aid box stock.
We have training venues in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth but can also train at your venue for groups of 8 delegates of more.