First Aid Provision

Updated 07/08/20

As museums begin to welcome staff, volunteers and visitors back to their sites, there will inevitably be a few first aid incidents. With young children and older visitors making up a good proportion of the audience for many museums, staff can find themselves providing first aid for visitors from time to time.

At heritage sites, there may be more likelihood of trips, slips and falls on grassy banks or stone steps. In addition, there are the minor injuries everyone, from the garden volunteer pruning the roses to the kitchen assistant in the café, might encounter.

The Covid-19 situation means that additional precautions should be taken to protect first aiders when they are treating colleagues or members of the public. This will form part of your covid-19 risk assessment.

The HSE recommends these precautions for first aiders in workplaces:

Delivering first aid

  • If you suspect a serious illness or injury, call 999 immediately – tell the call handler if the patient has any COVID-19 symptoms
  • If giving first aid to someone, you should use the recommended equipment below, if it is available:
    • a fluid-repellent surgical mask
    • disposable gloves
    • eye protection
    • apron or other suitable covering
  • You should minimise the time you share a breathing zone with the casualty and direct them to do things for you where possible

In case of cardiac arrest in an adult

  • Recognise cardiac arrest by looking for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing. Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth. If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest, the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives.
  • Call 999 immediately – tell the call handler if the patient has any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Ask for help. If a portable defibrillator is available, ask for it
  • Before starting CPR, to minimise transmission risk, use a cloth or towel to cover the patient’s mouth and nose, while still permitting breathing to restart following successful resuscitation
  • If available, use:
    • a fluid-repellent surgical mask
    • disposable gloves
    • eye protection
    • apron or other suitable covering
  • Only deliver CPR by chest compressions and use a defibrillator (if available) – don’t do rescue breaths

After delivering any first aid

  • Ensure you safely discard disposable items and clean reusable ones thoroughly
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser as soon as possible

The Health & Safety Executive has also allowed an extension to First Aid at Work certificates, if staff have been unable to access the training.  They will be expected to complete their revalidation by 30 September.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you shared your covid-19 risk assessment with your trained first aiders?  Are they comfortable with the new precautions?  Are other members of staff also aware of the procedures?
  • How will you and your first aiders keep up to date with changing advice?
  • Consider whether any of your first aiders are in a vulnerable category and whether they should avoid treating casualties at this time.  How can you best support these people and others who may be concerned about the risks?
  • Could you put some face masks, aprons, googles and extra gloves in your first aid kits?  Or could first aiders carry PPE on their person, just in case?
  • Could you put an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with each first aid kit so first aiders can clean their hands immediately before and after treating a casualty?
  • Could you have face masks to offer to casualties to wear while they are being treated, to help them and the first aider feel safer?
  • Consider where you will treat people and how you will ensure chairs, tables and equipment are cleaned down afterwards.
  • Think about who will clear up any vomit or blood.  This is a potential infection risk so should be done while wearing disposable gloves, face mask and apron, and then double-bagged and disposed of appropriately.  The whole area will then need thorough cleaning.
  • Consider what actions your first aiders might need to take if a member of staff or a volunteer has covid-19 symptoms?  Do you need a thermometer in your first aid kit for individuals to check their temperature?

The vast majority of incidents do not involve you getting close to a casualty where you would come into contact with cough droplets. Sensible precautions will ensure you are able to treat a casualty effectively.

Advice for first aiders, St John Ambulance 2020


Resuscitation Council guidelines

HSE guidelines for first aid during coronavirus

HSE information on First Aid qualification extensions

St John Ambulance guidance for first aiders during covid-19

Government guidelines on decontaminating public spaces during Covid-19

Personal Protective Equipment and Cleaning Suppliers
Appendix 8

Appendix 23: Safety Action Bulletin Example

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