What is First Aid and How Can It Benefit Your Business?

what is first aid

Accidents can happen in seconds. In the blink of an eye, an ordinary day at work can turn into an emergency. If an incident does happen, then the injured or ill person may need immediate first aid. But what is first aid exactly?

First aid saves lives. It’s possibly the most important skill you can teach your employees or learn yourself.

Every business should have adequate first aid kits and equipment on hand and have a team member trained to use them. In fact, you’re legally required to do so. In this blog, we provide a clear explanation of first aid and your legal obligations.

What is First Aid?

First aid can be defined as the immediate assistance given to someone who has been injured or suddenly becomes ill. It’s temporary care administered by bystanders before professional medical help arrives. It also refers to care given for any minor injuries which would have otherwise not received treatment.

In practice, first aid can be dramatic, such as performing CPR or helping someone who has fallen off a roof. It can also be required in less life-threatening situations, like helping someone to bandage a small cut or providing a chair, water and some aspirin to someone with a migraine.

purpose of first aid

What’s the History?

The answer to ‘What is first aid?’ can be traced back to the earliest beginnings of humanity. We’ve always found ways to help the injured or ill. As civilisation progressed, we began to separate people who provided medical care into professionals and laypeople. First aid is traditionally given by laypeople.

The concept stretches back to 1099 when knights in the Order of St. John gave assistance to their comrades on the battlefield. Although not considered to be professionals, the knights were formally trained to provide medical aid.

The Prussian military surgeon Friedrich von Esmarch coined the term ‘erste hilfe’ (that’s German for ‘first help’) in 1870 to describe the training soldiers received to bandage wounds in battle. The description ‘first aid’ was then used in 1878 to describe the work of British civilian ambulance crews. It was an amalgamation of ‘first treatment’ and ‘national aid’.

And the name stuck. First aid is now used as an international catch-all term to describe any assistance given to an injured or ill person before medical professionals arrive on the scene.

First Aid at Work Course

Our First Aid at Work Course explains how to provide emergency care without putting yourself in danger. It explores key concepts of first aid at work and gives all trainees a basic understanding of life-saving techniques.

What Is the Purpose of First Aid?

First aid can be viewed as having three main purposes:

The first purpose of first aid is to preserve life. This includes both the life of the injured or ill person and also the lives of those around them.

The second purpose is to prevent the situation from getting worse. The injured or ill person must be treated to prevent the worsening of their condition. The situation must also be managed to prevent it from becoming more dire.

The third purpose is to promote recovery. First responders are expected to keep the injured or ill person calm and to assist their recovery by talking to them and providing emotional support.

How Can First Aid Training Benefit Your Business?

It’s a distinct possibility that you’ve never had an accident occur at your workplace. Maybe you’re just very lucky and no one has ever been injured or fallen ill while at work. So, why should you make first aid training a priority?

In blunt terms, it’s because your, or someone else’s, luck might run out. The unexpected can always happen. An accident might occur. A person may fall ill. Just because you’ve never had to use a first aid kit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one.

There are many instances where first aid training has saved someone’s life in a work setting. In a recent case, a 53-year-old man from the West Midlands was saved by his workmates when he had a cardiac arrest while repairing trucks. Clinically dead for over five minutes, the man was brought back from the brink by emergency assistance administered by his colleagues.

Providing first aid training for your workers can prevent injuries from escalating and ensure the safety and well-being of your staff and the public. It’s also a legal requirement.

How Can First Aid Training Benefit your business

What Are the Legal Duties of UK Employers?

In the UK, the legal obligations of employers are covered under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. These regulations apply to all workplaces and also to self-employed people.

They explicitly state that:

“An employer shall provide, or ensure that there are provided, such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first-aid to be rendered to his employees if they are injured or become ill at work”

The regulations go on to state that:

“…an employer shall provide, or ensure that there is provided, such number of suitable persons as is adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for rendering first-aid to his employees if they are injured or become ill at work; and for this purpose a person shall not be suitable unless he has undergone—

(a)such training and has such qualification as the Health and Safety Executive may approve for the time being in respect of that case or class of case, and

(b)such additional training, if any, as may be appropriate in the circumstances of that case.”

What this means is that employers must perform first aid risk assessments in the workplace and then act on the outcomes of these assessments. First aid equipment that is suitable for the workplace must be provided, the extent of which should be determined by the risk assessment.

In high-risk workplaces, a designated first-aid room may need to be arranged, and one or more staff will need to be trained as a first aider.

Where to Find First Aid Training for You and Your Employees

It’s not a legal necessity for employers in low-risk environments to have a trained first aider on staff, but they still have to appoint a dedicated person to manage first aid arrangements. And the HSE still recommends that low-risk workplaces have one qualified first aider for every 100 staff members. If you work in a high-risk environment, then the HSE recommends that you have one qualified first aider for every 50 staff members.

But it’s always a good idea to provide all your staff with basic first aid training. In addition to giving them the skills to provide help if someone needs it, first aid training also helps to ensure you meet the minimum legal requirements.

Our First Aid at Work Course is an excellent introduction to the basics of first aid.

This training provides participants with an overview of common first aid procedures. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to boost their first aid knowledge. The training is also ideal for any qualified first aider who needs to refresh their skills.

What is first aid training? It just might be the most important course you ever take.

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