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Last updated: 04.09.18

First Aid for Teachers: What You Need to Know

All teachers have a responsibility to keep their students safe, which may in some instances mean that they are required to give first aid. While all schools will have designated first aiders who have qualifications, it’s still beneficial for all teachers to understand at least the basics. First aid can often mean the difference between a minor injury or illness becoming a more serious one, or a serious one becoming life-threatening. In this article, we’re going to go through the main things you need to know.

The first point to note is that being a qualified first aider means undertaking specific, physical training. Without this, you will not be a designated first aider, and it is not your direct responsibility to apply first aid techniques. However, that does not mean that you can’t learn how to deal with a first aid situation.

The Primary Survey

The primary survey is perhaps the most effective procedure that teachers can learn if they are not a designated first aider. This is often part of formal first aid training, and can be started in any first aid situation, either in anticipation of the arrival of a qualified first aider, or the emergency services. It’s designed to help people understand how best to deal with a potential emergency situation. DR ABC is the best way of remembering it, which stands for Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation. Let’s take a quick look at the process here:

Danger: This means checking the situation for any further dangers. For example, has the student cut themselves on glass that’s still present? Make sure the situation is safe before continuing.

Response: Check to see if the person is responsive by speaking to them. If they are not, then pinch their earlobe or gently shake their shoulders to see if there’s a response. Whether there’s a response or not, move onto the next point; but those who are unresponsive are in a more serious condition.

Airway: Check to see if the airway is clear. If the child is responsive then you can directly check or treat them for choking. If they are unresponsive, then tilt the head and lift the chin to open the airway.

Breathing: Next, you’ll need to check breathing by looking, listening and feeling. If they’re breathing normally, move onto circulation. If they’re not breathing normally, then call 999 immediately, particularly if they are also unresponsive. CPR should be administered at this point. Click here for our article on CPR.

Circulation: You should now check to see if there is any severe bleeding. If there is, then control the flow with any available dressings or clothing.

In practice, the primary survey is rapid, and in most scenarios in the school environment, you’ll find that most steps can be bypassed, as serious events are unlikely.

Important: Always seek further medical assistance if you are in any doubt.

Should you wish to undertake further training, then you may find the Virtual College Primary Survey course useful. This teaches how to deal with an emergency situation, and explains certain medical procedures, such as how to place someone into the recovery position. It’s a good option for those not seeking full first aider status, but who would like to feel prepared for an emergency situation. Click here to find out more.

Using a First Aid Kit

Of course, the situation might not require anything as significant as the primary survey. Accidents in school are far more likely to be simple cuts, bruises and grazes. First aid kits should be readily available on school grounds, and can be used to treat a wide range of minor injuries such as cuts and grazes. All good first aid kits should come with an instructional guide that explains how to use the various components, but if you’re ever in doubt, always seek a qualified first aider or the school nurse if one is present.