First aid during the COVID pandemic outbreak
Recently we have seen a great surge of increasing infections, both nationally and internationally, thus having to apply First Aid can seem hazardous and rightly so. This could potentially be very risky during this pandemic outbreak, therefore it is of utmost importance that the necessary precautionary measures are taken.
As First Aider you would like to assist at a safe distance from the casualty as much as you can and minimise the time you share a breathing zone. Remember the 3P model – preserve life, prevent worsening, promote recovery.
Keep Clam, do not panic!
First of all do not panic, keep as calm as possible. Being in a panicked state could potentially aggravate the injury as this could lead to hasty decisions making. Ensure that you remain calm and composed so you can make the best judgment and assist the injured person.
Guidance for first aiders
First of all, it is important to evaluate your surroundings for any safety hazards. If the situation involves severe bleeding, loss of consciousness, head or back injury, call emergency services immediately before applying CPR or first aid. If they are capable and responsive, let them do checks on your request while you maintain your distance, for example breathing checks, moving body parts, etc.
Hygiene and first aid
Remember, first aid has always considered the risk of infections, such as HIV, hepatitis as well as the one that is now on everyone's lips - COVID-19, that have the potential to do harm. Normal hygiene practices must strictly be followed, such as wearing gloves, masks, washing hands, etc.
If the injured person has been in close contact or living with you, the normal CPR method will apply. However, if this person showed any COVID-19 signs or symptoms prior to collapsing, there is another way to go about it. In the latter case or you do not know the history of the person being treated, the following procedure is recommended:
Ensure that you put on any available PPE, even if this means a delay in starting CPR.
Fold a towel, cloth or suitable substitute 3 times and place it over the person’s mouth and nose to help reduce the risk of possible COVID-19 transmission.
Push on the chest repeatedly until help arrives (Hands-only CPR).
Try to alternate rescuers at least every 2 minutes or 5 cycles in order to avoid rescuer fatigue.
Breaths are not recommended due to the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Use the AED as soon as it becomes available. Switch it on and follow the voice prompts.
After performing compression-only CPR, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water; alcohol-based hand gel can be used if soap and water isn’t available.
After delivering first aid
Ensure you safely discard disposable items and clean reusable ones properly. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser as soon as possible.