First Aid during COVID-19: What you need to know

Although there’s still some uncertainty around COVID-19 and when normal life will fully resume, one thing is certain – people will continue to choke. They’ll still bump their heads. They’ll have slips, trips and falls. People will continue to have heart attacks, cut their fingers – or worse. That’s life.

We still need to help people as best we can. But COVID-19 has changed the way we do First Aid for the foreseeable future.

First Aid during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

The aim is to help those who need First Aid treatment whilst keeping yourself and others safe. That’s always been the case. But COVID-19 gives us something else to consider.

Stop and think. Social distancing is still in place. Can the casualty help themselves with some support and direction from you? If they’re responsive and able, telling them how to treat themselves is going to be a safe bet.

If they’re unresponsive or seriously injured – then they’re unlikely to be able to help themselves! Remember checking for ‘Danger’ on your First Aid course? Well, COVID-19 fits right in here.

As always – we need to protect ourselves from danger. If you’ve got a face mask, goggles and gloves – this would be a good time to put them on.

Face Masks

As usual, try and get a response from the casualty and shout for help if they appear unresponsive.

Usually, next we’d open the airway. However, during the COVID-19, the Resuscitation Council UK has suggested to NOT open the airway (to minimise risk of infection). Instead, move straight on to check for breathing – with some minor alterations.

During COVID-19, check for breathing by simply looking for the absence of signs of life and normal breathing. Don’t listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the casualty’s mouth, as we usually would. Again, this modification is to minimise the risk of infection.

If the person is breathing normally – make sure they’re not bleeding and look for any damage or broken bones as usual, then put them into the ‘Recovery Position’ and call 999.

How to do CPR during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

If the casualty is not breathing – they need CPR and early access to a defibrillator.

During COVID-19, the Resuscitation Council UK recommends chest compression only CPR for adults– that’s CPR without rescue breaths. So, if an adult isn’t breathing normally:

  1. Call 999.
  2. Put on PPE if available.
  3. Put a piece of cloth or clothing over the casualty’s nose and mouth to minimise the chance of infection transmission.
  4. Start continuous chest compressions. Remember, for an adult we’re aiming for 100-120 chest compressions every minute (the beat of ‘Stayin’ Alive’), to a depth of 5-6cms (about the height of a credit card).
  5. Continue chest compressions – don’t give rescue breaths.
  6. Use a defibrillator if one is available.
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How to do CPR for a child during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Chest compressions and rescue breaths are still recommended for children. This is because if a child isn’t breathing, it’s unlikely to be caused by a problem with the heart – it’s more likely to be a respiratory problem. This means giving breaths can be crucial to the child’s chance of survival.

If a child isn’t breathing normally:

  1. Put on PPE if available.
  2. If you’re on your own, give 5 initial rescue breaths.
  3. Then, perform 30 chest compressions (to a depth of at least one third of the depth of the chest) and 2 breaths. Keep repeating 30 chest compressions to 2 breaths for about 1 minute before going for help.
  4. Call 999.
  5. Continue CPR with 30 compressions to 2 breaths and keep repeating.
  6. Use a defibrillator if one is available. Remember to use the child setting or child pads if the defibrillator has them.

Online First Aid Training

Remember, the Department for Education (DfE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) specify that accredited First Aid training cannot be delivered wholly online. Practical elements and assessment must be delivered face to face so that competency can be properly assessed. 

Final Thoughts

Confident, effective First Aiders will always be necessary in all settings. Keeping up to date is part of being a good First Aider – as things always change, whether that’s down to developing medical evidence, or a global pandemic! Hopefully this blog has helped a little, but if you have any questions at all, just get in touch, as we love to help!

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