Do you know what to do if someone has a heart attack or injures themselves at your workplace? Acting quickly in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death. But it’s hard to know how one will respond until faced with such a situation.
The 3 Ps of first aid are a concept developed to tackle this problem. They are designed to give a first-aider a set of easy-to-follow principles in an emergency. In this article, we look closely at the three Ps of first aid and explain how they could be helpful to you should the worst happen.
The Aims of First Aid – Understanding the Three Ps of First Aid
The 3 Ps of first aid are to preserve life, prevent deterioration and promote recovery. They are essential knowledge for any first-aider, but also useful for any employee to know. After all, you never know when an accident might happen.
The three Ps relate to simple first-aid techniques that anyone can do without prior training. They aim to prevent serious injuries, prevent infection and provide aid that could save someone’s life. Let’s take a closer look at each one of the three Ps of first aid.
The First P - Preserve Life
The immediate aim of first aid is to preserve a person’s life. However, the first thing you should do in an emergency is to preserve your own life. You should assess the situation to ensure there are no life-threatening hazards to yourself or anybody else in the area. If you can’t approach the ill or injured person safely, you must stand back and wait until help arrives.
If the initial assessment of the environment shows no potential risks, a responder should approach the injured or ill person and follow the ABC steps:
- Airway – Make sure the person has an unobstructed airway
- Breathing – Ensure that the person is breathing
- Circulation – Evaluate the person’s circulation
The Second P - Prevent Deterioration
Preventing deterioration involves taking steps to ensure the person’s condition does not worsen. This means that first aiders should aim to keep the injured or ill person stable until paramedics or medical staff arrive.
This can involve:
- Cleaning wounds
- Performing CPR
- Giving sugar to a diabetic
- Stopping any bleeding
- Taking care of a person who is having a seizure
- Preventing a broken limb from moving
- Remove any hazards in the area that can be removed if it’s safe to do so
- Prevent deterioration – this can be as simple as comforting the person until help arrives
The Third P - Promote Recovery
After a responder has provided as much aid as they can, they should then take steps to promote recovery. Depending on the situation, there may be a variety of things you can do to help an injured or ill person. If they’re conscious, the responder needs to ask for their consent before providing any assistance.
The first step to promote recovery is encouraging the person to be confident. This means helping them to not lose heart, assuring them that help will arrive and that they will recover. Many people go into shock after an injury or suffering a sudden illness. Comforting words of encouragement can help to lessen the effects of shock.
Other ways to assist that help promote recovery include:
- Administering pain relief
- Keeping a person’s head or limbs supported
- Applying cooling agents to a burn
- Wearing gloves to prevent the spread of infection
- Disinfecting any wounds
Remember that a responder is not expected to provide the same level of care as a medical professional. Their duty is to give as much first aid care as they reasonably can, by following the three Ps.
Why First Aid Should Be a Priority in the Workplace
There were 36.8 million working days lost due to accidents and illnesses in the UK during 2021-22. Approximately 565,000 people were injured and 123 people died at work, according to recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Many of these incidents could have been avoided, or the harm suffered could have been less severe if the victim had received immediate first aid care. Make first aid a priority to ensure you and your team know what to do if an emergency happens in your business.
Your Legal Obligations as an Employer
Suppose an employee is injured or falls gravely ill in your place of business. In that case, you are legally obligated to ensure they get immediate attention. This duty is outlined under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981.
While employers aren’t expected to provide first aid themselves, they must make sure their workplace has ‘adequate and appropriate first aid equipment, facilities and personnel’. This means some staff members must be trained as first aiders and understand essential first-aid treatments well.
Want to Learn First Aid? Where to Find First Aid Training
Less than half of 2,000 UK workers surveyed by the charity St John Ambulance said they didn’t know if a trained first aider existed in their workplace..
The same survey also showed that 40% of respondents reported witnessing a serious accident at work requiring first aid treatment. More than a quarter of these incidents were reported to be life-threatening. Only one in four respondents said they felt confident they would know what to do in an emergency first aid situation.
First aid training will ensure you meet your health and safety legal obligations. Online first aid training is a great way to understand the concepts behind first aid and refresh your knowledge if you’re already a trained first aider.
Trainees completing a practical first aid training course learn crucial first aid skills such as dealing with someone who has suffered an electric shock, treating a cut or burn, and administering CPR. The knowledge they gain could make all the difference in an emergency situation. While virtual first aid training is not a replacement for practical first aid training, it serves a vital role in refreshing the knowledge of trained first aiders.