First Aid, Covid-19 and Social Distancing
First Aid, Coronavirus (Covid-19) and Social Distancing
With rules around social distancing tightening almost daily we are confronted quite often with confusing information regarding personal space and how we physically interact with each other on every level in society.
As a qualified, accredited first aid and CPR training instructor, I do not have all the answers however I seek to offer some tips and words of support to those feeling overwhelmed right now.
- Minimise any risk of danger
First, and foremost when assessing a casualty, you should always prepare as if everyone you are assisting is infected with any type of virus, not just focused on Covid-19 only.
As first aiders our initial priority must always be minimise the risk of danger to ourselves prior to helping someone else. This golden rule never changes regardless of whether we are in pre or post Coronavirus pandemic period. After all, if we fail to keep ourselves safe and healthy, we will not be of much use to the casualty.
Long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, as first aiders we have always known there to be a lot of potential hazards when coming to the rescue of others.
That is all part and parcel of what we sign up for when we decide to become a first aider.
In the case of assisting a casualty who may be suffering from a contagious infectious disease we simply need to continue treating every situation as if every casualty is infected potentially with everything, implementing those safeguards we have always been trained to use when rendering first aid and now especially when providing CPR.
- Take precautionary measures
So, in addition to the usual cross infection precautionary measures such as using barrier aids like examination gloves and CPR masks, we may also choose to make a reasonable adjustment to how we go about administering CPR.
This now includes providing chest compressions only instead of a combination of breaths and compressions during cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Place a face covering such as a cloth or put a mask over the mouth and nose of the casualty. Check/feel for normal breathing by placing your hand on their chest.
As with all the precautionary measures suggested and outlined by our health experts when interacting with each other socially, we also need to apply them when coming to the rescue of someone in need, plus some additional, reasonable control measures when concerned with the increased cross contamination risks.
If we break it right down to basics we always need to ask ourselves, am I inside the 1>2metre social distance rules (which we will be when attending to a casualty), so what additional measures am I taking to prevent the exchange of body fluids and cross infection from the casualty to ourselves, or on the other hand from ourselves to the casualty.
Perhaps the biggest risk of all is one as simple as failing to wash our hands thoroughly after potentially coming into contact with the virus and then touching our face with our hands.
- Importance of First Aid
One thing that concerns us greatly is that at a time like now when there is more anxiety and uncertainty then we have known in living history, the need for people being ready and prepared to administer first aid has never been greater.
I fear that with so much concern around the Coronavirus that it may be possible that would-be first aiders may pass someone by who is in great need when they would have normally assisted, due to concerns about contracting the virus.
I would like to reassure all would-be first aiders not to be distracted by all the fear, and remind ourselves of the reality which is that our willingness to help others has never been as vital as it is right now during this worldwide pandemic.
With the correct safeguards and reasonable adjustments in place I believe that on balance the benefits to continued community wellbeing far outweigh the risks and we should continue to provide emergency basic lifesaving first aid to those in need.