What do you get when you book a first aider?

This is the second in a series of blogs, in which I will be highlighting the challenges and risks we are facing in the event first aid industry. In this blog I explain who the first aid company could send, to your event, when you book a first aider.

St. John Ambulance state that; first aid is the help given to someone who is injured or ill, to keep them safe until they can get more advanced medical treatment by seeing a doctor, health professional or go to hospital. The role of a first aider is to give someone this help, while making sure that they and anyone else involved are safe.

The HSEdefines a first-aider as someone who has undertaken training appropriate to the circumstances. They also state that they must hold a valid certificate of competence in either: first aid at work, emergency first aid at work or any other level of training or qualification that is appropriate to the circumstances.

So, what is appropriate? In this unregulated industry it is sometimes difficult or even impossible to answer. But remember that you have an obligation, as an event organiser, to ensure you have sufficient medical provision on site. This should be calculated in your first-aid, medical and ambulance needs assessment. In many cases, a first aider will be suitable for small low risk events.

If you book a ‘first aider’ you could be lucky, and the provider may send you a well-trained, knowledgeable and experienced first aider who is fully equipped and supported to perform their role. On the other hand, the provider could send you an individual who has only completed a basic one day first aidcourse with limited equipment. On paper, both providers have met their contractual obligations if you have simply asked for a ‘first aider’.

For a first aider to be deemed competent; the first aid training they undertake does not have to be a recognised qualification and does not need to have a formal examination or test. The individual may not have had any prior first aid experience or gained any experience since attending their training. In many cases these first aiders will have less experience than the event organisers themselves, who may have completed a first aid at work course as part of their role.

Think about your role as an event organiser and the basic first aid training you may have received. Would you feel experienced and equipped to deal with a medical emergency such as a cardiac arrest? I think it would be fair to say you wouldn’t. With this in mind, think about the first aider who you have booked for your event, who has only completed a one day first aid course. They are now at your event providing a ‘professional service’ and are expected to deal with any medical emergency they are faced with, which could include every event organiser’s worst nightmare; a cardiac arrest. Are you confident the first aider you have booked could deal with such an emergency?

As with all things there has to be a balance, but the balance here needs to ensure public safety at your event.

So, what can you do? Although this is difficult to challenge, there are a few things you should do.

You should:

1. Always do your due diligence checks on any provider.

2. Be more specific about the qualification of the first aider you are booking.

3. Ask what the minimum qualification is for the first aider they are providing.

4. Ask what the experience level is for the first aider they are providing.

5. Specify the required skill set of the first aider.

6. Remember, if you are receiving a very cheap quote against other providers, it is highly likely that the first aider they are providing is not suitably qualified and/or experienced to do the role.

Do not compromise the safety of your event and put your customers at risk. Take these simple steps to remove the risk of litigation against your company and you as an individual. Just by making a booking with a medical provider does not remove your responsibility for the safety of your event. Be mindful of the risks and take action to reduce them, whilst maintaining your company reputation.

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