Having someone or a team member in your staff complement who has a first aid certification can mean the difference between life and death. This is not really a topic anyone wants to talk about, as it can be rather unpleasant, but accidents do happen and better be prepared for that eventuality. Sometimes accidents are a lot more serious than others and often they are life-threatening. It only takes six minutes for the human brain to die due to lack of oxygen, which means that time is not on your side in an emergency.
In South Africa, we have an alarming shortage of paramedic and ambulance resources. This often means that in an emergency, these lifesaving assets are delayed. An employee with certified formal first aid training can be a life-saving asset to you, your company and the injured person. By being able to assess the situation and take control, your employee may be able to keep a person alive long enough for the emergency services to arrive.
Planning for an unexpected emergency is the correct thing to do and is also an Occupational Health and Safety Act requirement. Having trained and certified first aiders is an ethical and legal responsibility for all employers and companies.
Some major benefits of first aid training are:
- It equips employees with the confidence and ability to provide help during various emergency situations. If someone suffers health-related issues like a heart attack or a stroke, your employees know how and skills in first aid become an invaluable asset to support not only to patients but also the professional emergency responders and medical practitioners, as the first aiders often keep the patients alive until they get there. The patients chance of survival and improved outcome are often directly linked to, first aid or CPR administered before the paramedics got there.
- First aid helps ensure that the right methods of medical assistance is provided. You not only have an employee who is willing to assist, but is able to assist, Trained first aiders are a critical link in the chain of survival, which is a worldwide acknowledged reality and requirement.
- When emergencies occur first aiders are able to improve and better recovery rates and chances and in so doing benefit the patient and the company, by decreasing downtime, replacement overheads, insurance and medical aid claims and reputational damage etc.
Since we don’t all have first aid training, most of us rely on information that has been passed down to us, or that we heard or seen on TV, or from ours friends. Quite often, due to bad training or lack of correct information, instead of providing first aid assistance and we might even cause someone further harm.
Some practical examples of why first aid certification is necessary:
We are taught to believe that the Heimlich manoeuvre is always necessary during choking, however someone with a valid first aid certification will tell you that if someone is choking you must first assess the situation and ask the patient are you choking and recognize the response and distress signals, then ask them to try cough the obstruction out and only if the patient’s airway to totally blocked do they then require the abdominal thrust or Heimlich manoeuvre.
When someone is having a fit or seizure, we’ve heard that one should place a spoon in the victim’s mouth to prevent them from biting their tongue. A person with first aid certification knows to never place or force anything in a victim’s mouth, but rather turn them onto their side so that their airway and tongue do not block their airway.
You may have heard that putting butter or petroleum jelly on the burnt area is good for a burn and a great pain reliever, however, someone with first aid certification will know that the area needs to be flushed with cool water as quickly as possible and for at least 10 minutes and then a burn shield dressing applied, which is found in the Regulation 7 first aid box. Appling butter, mayonnaise, toothpaste or petroleum jelly will only cause further injury and hamper recovery.
Many people believe that applying hot compresses to strains and sprains is the best treatment, however, someone with first aid certification will know that RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression bandage and Elevation) is the correct treatment. A Hot compress will dilate the vessels and increase the severity of inflammation.
We may have seen on TV that the best thing to do is suck out the snake venom. However, someone with first aid certification will know that your safety comes first and by doing this you will put your life in danger. Rather wipe off excess venom, immobilize or splint the limb, apply a crepe bandage to the whole limb from bottom to top and don’t let the patient walk or increase their heart rate.
Do you know what first aid certification is a legal requirement for all companies?
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993 states that an employer must take all reasonable steps that are necessary under the circumstances to ensure that employees in the workplace receive prompt first aid treatment in the event of injury or medical emergency.
- If you have more than 5 employees that are employed at a single workplace, you must provide a suitable first aid box which is accessible in the workplace for the treatment of the injured.
- If you have more than 10 employees that are employed at a single workplace a first aider is required and thereafter, the employer must ensure that for every group of up to 50 employees at that particular workplace, there is at least one person readily available during normal working hours who is in possession of a valid first aid certificate issued by an organisation approved by the chief inspector of the Department of Labour.
Appointing a reputable, accredited (HWSETA and DOL) and experienced Occupational Health and Safety training service provider, will ensure that your first aid training and equipment legal requirements are met. This means that you are prepared, in a position to save a life and that no nasty legal fees sneak up on you.
About us: Absolute Health Services (AHS) offer accredited Health and Safety (H&S) training, ensuring that our clients receive current, professional and quality training. All our training instructors are paramedics registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and have extensive practical operational experience and have specialised in First Aid, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Firefighting and H&S training. Our training courses contain the latest theoretical course content and extensive practical content and scenario training, thereby ensuring both theoretical and practical exposure. Our intention is to establish a national Health and Safety training network and footprint, enabling our clients to access our training network anywhere in the country. We know that without the support of our clients our business would not exist, so we are committed to offering a professional, client-focused, high quality and cost-effective service.