There is no obligation to provide first aid if you are not comfortable to do so. If unwilling to provide first aid, you must arrange an alternative first aid for the casualty without delay or contact the emergency services through the usual routes for each site.
COVID-19 is spread through 2 primary routes and people may become infected as follows:
- Secretions can be directly transferred into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (within 2m) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs.
- Possibility of infection by touching a surface or object that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching one’s own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching a door handle or shaking hands then touching own face).
People with the following symptoms should be assumed to be potentially having COVID-19:
- New dry persistent cough
- Fever over 37.8 degrees Celsius
- Shortness of breath.
A fever and a cough must be present to suspect a COVID-19 infection.
Prevention of Infection when responding as a first aider
Maintain social distancing as far as possible during the interaction, talk the injured party through self-administered first aid if practical to do so;
If you need to provide assistance to a person who has COVD-19 symptoms, ensure the following:
- Move the person to a place away from others to limit potential transmission, shut the door and open windows where possible;
- Where it is not possible to move to a physically separate space, instruct others to stay at least 2m away. Barriers or screens can be used;
- Use face visor or goggles, filtering face piece mask FFP3 (or FFP2 where 3 not available), non-sterile nitrile gloves, and disposable aprons where available;
- Treat your patient as required;
- After contact with the individual, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use alcohol based hand sanitiser, and wash hands at the earliest opportunity. Remove PPE properly as per HSE Guidance.
After contact with person with suspected COVID-19
After contact with the casualty:
- Any single use PPE should be disposed of after use and immediately wash your hands with an alcohol based sanitiser. If an alcohol sanitiser is not available wash your hands with soap and water at the earliest opportunity.
- All waste including disposable PPE and RPE (masks) should be placed in a plastic bag and set aside for at least 5 days, prior to disposal in the normal waste stream. All such bags must be dated and care taken to avoid placing freshly discarded items in 'older' bags. Note: it is thought that COVID-19 survives approximately 72 hours outside the human body so 5 days includes a safety factor.
- All equipment used should be cleaned with alcohol wipes or a virucidal agent (used by STFC cleaners) immediately after use unless it is single use, in which case it will be disposed of.
- Where possible and appropriate the area in which the casualty was treated should be cleaned down. Spillage of bodily fluid must be cleaned up using a spill kit and disposed of.
- First Aiders who come into contact with a suspected COVID-19 patient who do not have an apron should remove their outermost layer after contact, turn inside out and wash on high temperature as soon as possible.
- If the location in which the individual was treated is a single occupancy office, the office can simply be closed for five days and cleaned as normal afterwards.
- For offices with multiple occupants or open plan areas, accessible surfaces may be wiped with alcohol wipes or a virucidal agent or left for five days before cleaning.
- Call 999 and either retrieve a defibrillator or send someone to do this for you. Do not perform mouth-to-mouth ventilation (NO rescue breaths to be performed).
- If there is a perceived risk of COVID-19 infection be sure to inform the emergency services when making the call
- Recognise cardiac arrest by looking for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing. Feel for a carotid pulse if trained to do so.
- Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the casualty’s mouth.
- If there are any doubts about the diagnosis of cardiac arrest, or if you do not wish to perform resuscitation using an aid then the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives.
- Attach the defibrillator as soon as possible. Early use of a defibrillator significantly increases the person’s chances of survival and does not increase risk of infection.
- After performing compression-only CPR, all rescuers should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Body Fluid Spillages
Keep people away from the area. Use a body fluids spill response kit provided from the first aid room. Ensure that you remove your PPE and wash your hands with soap and water.
Once the first aid response is over and you have completed any cleaning and decontamination, it is important to fill out a treatment form, return it to OH and also complete an incident entry on SHE Assure. Please discuss any concerns you have with another first aider or a person you trust.
Contact the NHS 111 service if you are concerned about exposure to COVID-19.