What is basic first aid?
First aid is very similar around the world, as it has developed over hundreds or even thousands of years, since people were ill or injured and required immediate assistance, which is now referred to as “first aid”. The concept or aim of first aid is to provide initial or immediate assistance and assist until professional, or more experienced help arrives and takes over the care.
What makes first aid quite unique is the word “first” – meaning that whoever delivers the aid is often the first person doing so. It is therefore very important that basic care or aid is administered correctly, as it is the first form of assistance an injured person is receiving.
If the initial first aid is not administered, or administered incorrectly, or not as well as it could or should be administered, then the positive outcome or effect of the first aid care would not be effective and not assist the injured person as much, or as well as it possibly could. An example of this is if someone had a lacerated femoral (upper leg) or brachial (upper arm) artery and was bleeding severely and immediate first aid was required to ensure bleeding stops.
Poor first aid such as not applying enough direct pressure could mean that the person bleeds to death. However, attending a good quality first aid training course would train first aiders in applying good quality direct pressure which would stop the bleeding and the person would probably survive.
As with any course or profession, there is generally a basic or advanced level. Basic first aid would be an entry-level first aid course, where advanced first aid would include the basic content as well as additional topics, information, and more advanced details and skills. A basic first aid training course could be two and a half (2 ½) days and an advanced course could be 5 days in duration.
The principles of basic first aid
The principles of basic first aid include principles, actions, and knowledge that are critical to applying successful first aid treatment in general. These would need to be taught in first aid training courses with the aim of embedding the basic first aid knowledge, into the first aiders’ long term memory.
These principles would include topics and knowledge such as preventing further injury, reducing the risk of infected wounds, preserving life, and promoting recovery. As well as other principles such as safety, contacting the emergency services, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), using an AED (automated external defibrillator), stopping bleeding, lateral recovery position, and other relevant basic first aid knowledge and skills.
These basic principles have been developed over many years to assist in keeping seriously injured or ill patients alive, until the emergency medical services and professional assistance arrive, or the patient arrives at the emergency department or hospital. A basic first aid training course would teach the first aiders to run cold water for 10 to 15 minutes over the burns of a patient who has suffered thermal burns.
This treatment would cool down the burnt area and prevent further burn damage caused by heated up body tissue. Here prevention is applied, one of the principles of first aid. It is therefore important that the principles are adhered to and administered correctly to be effective as part of basic first aid skills.
The Department of Labour recently released a government gazette 44663 on the 4th of June 2021 requiring with immediate effect that all first aid training courses and basic first aid training follow a specific national qualification framework (NQF) route where specific principles and requirements must apply to all first aid training.
All first aid training must be NQF aligned and only first aid accredited training companies such as Absolute Health Services may offer and present first aid training courses. All “old/historic” first aid level 1, 2, and 3 training has ceased to exist and may not be trained any longer used.
The steps to basic first aid training
It is a legislative requirement that all workplaces and employers must be prepared to administer first aid treatment to all employees and colleagues thereof within the workplace. When life-threatening emergencies/ life-threatening condition occur the speed and availability of administering advanced or basic first aid may be the difference between full or partial recovery, or even life or death. The following basic first aid steps can assist in providing valuable assistance to an injured person:
- Ensure that the workplace is well prepared with sufficient first aid personnel and first aid equipment such as first aid kits (bandages, gloves, triangular bandages, splints etc);
- Ensure that it is safe to approach and do not further endanger anyone else;
- Determine if the patient is breathing, has a pulse and moving and not in full cardiac arrest (not dead);
- Contact the emergency services, paramedics, or ambulance department to assist with professional medical care;
- If the patient is unconscious, place them into the lateral recovery position and/or ensure their injured body part is well supported;
- If they are conscious talk to them and try to keep them calm and obtain necessary information such as their medical history;
- Stop any profuse bleeding by applying all the various bleeding control measures (direct pressure;
- Conduct a head to toe secondary survey to determine all injuries and treat them accordingly once located;
- Document all details, information, and times;
The steps listed above are some of the important basic first aid actions which can be followed in sequence and assist in providing valuable life saving first aid care. There are other or different injuries that will require specific treatment to address that specific illness or injury. Attending a first aid training course will enable and empower the first aider with the necessary skills, understanding, and knowledge required.
Tips to carrying out quality basic first aid
Fortunately, first aiders do not need to practise their first aid skills regularly, but unfortunately, that means that these skills are often forgotten. As a first aider it is therefore important to refresh your knowledge and skills regularly, but at least once every year / annually.
Refresher courses can be attended at an accredited first aid training centre or conducted in-house where the first aid instructor conducts the refresher course at your company premises. This is best achieved if the entire first aid team members can get together and as a team practise simulated scenarios together to guide, support, and learn from the team activities and discussions.
Having printed treatment protocols and resuscitation steps available for usage during refresher training and annual evacuation drill practises, can also assist in basic first aid content memory retention.
Absolute Health Services first aid training services
Absolute Health Services is a fully accredited first aid training provider, offering basic first aid as well as advanced first aid training courses, in line with the Department of Labour and the Health and Welfare SETA requirements. Contact our offices and one of our staff members will assist you with advice, quotations and available dates for you and your delegates to join one of our public courses, or our instructors will facilitate the training on-site at your workplace venue.