Richard Evens: A simplified guidance for administering first aid

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Last October, the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation published the most comprehensive review of CPR practice literature to date. Following a period of review by medical experts, the recommendations are now due for implementation and will result in the revision of first aid information, such as the official manual and training protocols.

A combination of rescue breaths and chest compression remain the preferred delivery for CPR, for those trained in these techniques. However, for members of the public who are untrained or those who would prefer not to deliver mouth to mouth, the guidelines have been altered. In these circumstances, chest compressions alone are said to be just as effective at prolonging life in the first few minutes until the emergency services arrive. This is the most significant new development, and while being untrained is far from ideal, as training instils confidence among other skills, the changes reinforce the fact that in an emergency situation, even without formal training, first aid can be the difference between life and death.

Around 30,000 people have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year, yet only one-third receive CPR from a bystander. In this situation, every minute without defibrillation equates to between a 7 and 10% reduction in the chance of a positive outcome.
Employees admit that faced with an emergency situation, many would not know what to do and would readily welcome first aid training. Another significant change is that the new resuscitation guidelines now advise that anyone, trained or untrained, can use an automated external defibrillator (AED). AEDs which can shock the heart back into a rhythm, are available to businesses and can increase survival rates to up to 75%.Training is strongly recommended, but the newer machines have become simpler to use with voiced instructions to take the user through the procedure.

With 5.1 million working days lost each year due to injury, first aid societies are urging employers to offer first aid training that goes beyond the minimum regulatory requirements. When this is put into practice it can serve to reduce dangerous gaps in employee safety, while cutting down on absenteeism due to injury. The benefits are clear yet lives are still being lost when they could be saved. The new guidelines make first aid more accessible and no business should ever put its workers at risk by failing to provide comprehensive first aid cover. We hope that employers take these changes seriously and understand the impact that training staff can make in a life or death situation.

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About Richard Evens

Richard Evens, Commercial Training Director, St John Ambulance

Richard is Commercial Marketing Director at St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid organisation and market leader in workplace first aid training. Responsible for training programmes and educational standards, Richard has been involved in consultation with the HSE since the early development of new guidance for the content and structure of workplace first aid training. He has liaised widely with the HSE and other stakeholders to apply the collective expertise in first aid to the new guidance, becoming a board member of the First Aid at Work Council which was created during this process.

Before joining the charity sector 10 years ago in a retail development role for Oxfam, Richard worked in marketing and logistical roles with Shell and Total Oil. He lives in north west London spending time with his family, trying to keep up with two energetic young children.

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