First Aid

Managing first aid is an essential part of managing the health and safety of staff, students and others (including visitors, contractors and staff who work outside normal school hours, such as cleaners). First aid facilities in schools includes trained first aid officers, first aid kits and if required, the provision of a first aid room. First aid in a school involves all school activities whether on site or during off site activities such as excursions, sporting events and camps.

Establishing the first aid requirements for the school

First aid requirements may be different for each school, depending on:

  • the type of hazards at the school
  • the size of the school
  • the location of the school
  • the number of staff and students (including individual health issues).

First Aid Officers

First aid officers provide initial care of ill/injured staff, students and others by delivering first aid care in accordance with approved training and where appropriate, referring the ill/injured person for additional medical advice.

Schools must ensure that there are adequate staff trained in first aid who can assist ill/injured students, staff and others. A first aid risk assessment should be conducted to determine the number of first aiders needed, including the size and location of the school, type of activities being undertaken, availability of emergency services and medical facilities and staff or students with specific medical conditions.

First aid officer requirements

  • Hold current, appropriate first aid qualifications – the minimum acceptable level of training for first aid officers for workplaces is the senior first aid certificate (often referred to as a level 2 first aid qualification) or its competency based equivalent HLTFA301B Apply First Aid.
  • Provide emergency treatment (within their level of training and competence) and support to ill/injured students, staff and others.
  • Adhere to appropriate infection control practices during provision of first aid and in the disposal of first aid waste.
  • Report illness/injury.
  • Record first aid administered.

Names and contact details of current first aid officers should be clearly displayed.

Additional first aid risks to be considered:

Risk Possible Injuries Requiring First Aid
Manual Handling Fractures, lacerations, sprains and strains.
Slip and trip hazard Fractures, lacerations, sprains and strains.
Machinery Crush injuries, loss of consciousness, spinal injury, fractures, sprains and strains.
Work at heights Head injury, loss of consciousness, spinal injury, fractures, sprains and strains.
Workplace transport Crush injuries, fractures, spinal injuries, sprains and strains.
Electricity Electric shock and burns.
Chemicals Poisoning, loss of consciousness, burns and eye injuries.

First Aid Kits

A first aid risk assessment should be completed to determine the appropriate location and number of first aid kits required. The number of first aid kits should be based on the:

  • number of staff and students at the school
  • hazards that could result in an injury or illness
  • nature of activities being undertaken
  • remoteness of the location
  • location of excursions and the activities to be undertaken
  • health issues of students, staff and others
  • areas with an increased risk of injury (e.g. industrial design and technology, physical education, science laboratories, maintenance workshops, kitchens, etc.).

First aid kit requirements

  • Contents of first aid kits should match the types of injuries and illnesses likely to occur.
  • Kits should be located in prominent and accessible positions.
  • Location of first aid supplies should be communicated to all employees.
  • Kits should not be locked.
  • Appropriate kits should be available for yard duty.
  • Kits should be provided in vehicles, where the vehicle is being used for the purpose of work.
  • The location of a first aid kit should be identified by a prominent sticker on the vehicle that either marks the location of the kit, or explains where it is.
  • Additional portable first aid kits should be available for excursions and other activities such as sport, camps and emergency evacuations. The contents may vary depending on the nature of the hazard in the area (e.g. rural, sporting, etc.).
  • First aid kits should be clearly identified by a suitable sign or label.
  • Additional first aid kit modules (eye, burn modules, etc.) should be provided where particular hazards exist (e.g. science laboratories).

Medication, including analgesics such as paracetamol and aspirin, should not be included in first aid kits because of their potential to cause adverse health effects in some people including asthmatics, pregnant women and people with medical conditions.

First Aid Room

Where a first aid room is available, it should be easily accessible to ill or injured students, staff and others.  The first aid room should be large enough for its purpose, clean, comfortable and provide for short-term supervision.

NOTE: Where a first aid room is provided, it should not be used for any other purpose.

Schools without a first aid room should provide a first aid area to allow for the provision of basic first aid.

The first aid room requirements

  • be clearly identified – a white cross on a green background
  • be designated specifically for first aid purposes
  • be located to provide easy access to ill/injured persons
  • be stocked with the required contents
  • be well illuminated and ventilated
  • have easy access for an ambulance
  • have easy access to toilets
  • have emergency telephone numbers prominently displayed
  • have a list of first aid officer(s) names and contact numbers clearly displayed
  • have the location made aware to all staff, students and others.

First aid room signage

Displaying well recognised, standardised first aid signs will assist in easily locating first aid equipment and facilities. The signs should be a white cross on a green background.

Record keeping

First Aid Officers should keep records of all injuries/illnesses and any first aid treatments provided. Records may be in either written or electronic form. The written report should include the:

  • date, time and place of illness/injury
  • names and addresses of people injured and any witnesses
  • nature of the injury
  • subsequent action and treatment involved
  • details of the first aid officer making the report.
     

Administering Medication

All medication administered should be recorded by the first aid officer on the school's student database or medication administration record. Parental/Guardian permission is required to administer all medication, including analgesics (pain medication) to students.

General level 1 and 2 first aid training courses do not teach first aid officers to manage illness and injury using medication.

Additional First Aid Requirements

Eye wash and shower facilities

Eye wash and shower facilities should be provided in any area (e.g. science laboratories, food technology areas, maintenance workshops) where there is a risk of serious burns to the eyes or a large area of the body or face.

Automated External Defibrillators (AED)

Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) are not routinely required in first aid kits or first aid room supplies.  Schools may determine that an AED be included as part of the first aid provision particularly where the risk assessment indicates circumstances where life-threatening illness/injuries could result and timely access to emergency services cannot be assured.

An AED will require staff training and ongoing maintenance.

Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases can have a significant impact on schools through absenteeism and the interruption of learning in the school environment. Staff should be provided with information and training to ensure adequate infection control is practiced at all times to prevent or minimise the risk of transmission of infectious diseases.

All staff should take precautions to avoid infection and must follow basic hygiene procedures. Staff should have access to single-use disposable gloves and hand washing facilities, and should take care when dealing with blood or other bodily fluids and disposing of dressings or equipment.

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An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a small, portable, easy to operate lifesaving medical device designed to analyse an unconscious person’s heart rhythm and automatically deliver an electrical shock to a person having a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. An AED will not deliver a shock unless it detects a shockable heart rhythm.

Do schools need an AED?

AEDs are not routinely required in school-based first aid kits or first aid rooms.

The decision to purchase an AED is the choice of each individual school. It can be determined by assessing the risk in situations where timely access to emergency services cannot be guaranteed, for example, in situations considered high risk such as school camps, remote locations or in settings with staff, students or visitors with a known risk of cardiac arrest.

When is an AED used?

An AED is only one part of the emergency response for the person and does not negate the need for other priority first aid response actions. The school’s first aid Action Plan should be followed.

An AED should only be used if the person is:

  • unconscious/unresponsive
  • not breathing normally/regularly
  • not moving in any way
  • eight years of age or older, unless an age-appropriate AED is available.

Who can use an AED?

Although AEDs have been designed to be user-friendly, it is important that training is conducted to ensure that staff are aware of the proper application of the AED and how it is incorporated into other school emergency management strategies.

Is training required?

Comprehensive training is recommended to give staff greater confidence in the use of an AED. Training should include the following elements:

  • appropriate first aid training, including safe use of AED
  • development and testing of on site action plans for response to cardiac arrest
  • incident recording
  • AED storage and maintenance
  • access to refresher training (required every 12 months).

Where should the AED be located?

An AED should be clearly signed, visible, accessible and located in a convenient area that is not exposed to extreme temperatures, for example a school’s reception, common areas or main corridors. An AED should not be easily accessible to students.

How should the AED be maintained?

AEDs are designed to require minimal care and maintenance. They should be maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications.

General machine care recommendations include:

  • periodically checking that the machine is functioning
  • checking batteries monthly and after each use
  • checking pads and other components of the machine to ensure that they are present, in working order and have not passed the expiry date
  • checking the outside of the defibrillator for cracks or other signs of damage
  • recording each periodic check.
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Infectious diseases can have a significant impact on schools. Successful infection control programs are critical to maintaining a safe school environment through preventing or minimising the risk of transmission of infectious diseases.

Infection control program requirements

Develop and implement an infection control program that minimises the risk of exposure of infection to staff, students and others, including:

  • Document infection control process and communicate to all staff.
  • Implement appropriate infection control processes, training and equipment (e.g. gloves, hand washing facilities, waste disposal, sharps management, etc.).
  • Understand the legislative requirements for infectious diseases such as the minimum periods of exclusion and notification requirements. 
  • Review infection control measures to ensure they are providing an adequate level of safety.

Strategies to prevent the spread of infectious diseases

Hand washing Schools should ensure that staff and students have access to hand washing facilities including milk liquid soaps and hand towels.
Coughing and sneezing Staff and students should be encouraged to exercise good hygiene practices, including covering their mouth and nose with a tissue and washing hands after using or disposing of tissues.
Cleaning Cleaning and disinfection materials should be readily available in the school, particularly in food preparation, first aid and physical education areas in the event of a blood or body substance spill.
Food Handling and Storage Food needs to be handled correctly to ensure that they do not become contaminated. If food is not stored, displayed or transported correctly bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels.
Sand Pit/Soft Fall Sand pits can be a source of infection and need to be well maintained and kept clean. When not in use, it is recommended that sand pits be securely covered to prevent contamination, particularly with animal waste.
Waste Management Ensure that appropriate and sufficient waste receptacles are available and a waste disposal regime is in place to manage various types of waste including sanitary waste, sharps disposal etc.
Safe Handling of Sharps Sharps may be contaminated with blood or bodily fluids, chemical, posing a risk of infection or illness if they penetrate the skin. It is essential to follow safe procedures when using and disposing of sharps.
Spills Management (blood and bodily fluids) Should be dealt with as soon as possible. Assume all blood and body substances are potentially infectious.
Animals in Schools Animals may carry infections, so hands must be washed after handling any animals.

 

School Exclusion

Schools should ensure that they are aware of the infectious diseases exclusion periods and the infectious diseases that are notifiable to the Department of Health.

Exclusion periods for common infectious diseases

Condition Exclusion of cases
Chickenpox Exclude until all blisters have dried. This is usually at least five days after the rash appears in unimmunised children but may be less in previously immunised children.
Conjunctivitis Exclude until discharge from eyes has ceased.
Diarrhoea Exclude until there has not been a loose bowel motion for 24 hours.
Herpes (Cold sores) Young children unable to comply with good hygiene practices should be excluded while the lesion is weeping. Lesions to be covered by a dressing, where possible.
Impetigo Exclude until appropriate treatment has commenced. Sores on exposed surfaces must be covered with a watertight dressing.
Influenza and influenza-like illnesses Exclude until well.
Adapted from: Table 1: Minimum period of exclusion from primary schools and children's services centres for infectious diseases cases and contacts (Public Health Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009, Schedule 7)
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Schools are required to have a policy and procedure regarding medication. This includes the administering of medication to students while attending school or school-based activities.

Authorisation should be obtained from a medical practitioner to administer any medication to students.

Administering of medication during school hours should be considered only when there is no other alternative, such as when the medication is prescribed by a medical practitioner to be taken at scheduled times.

Medication Administration Requirements

Schools should ensure that:

  • staff are aware of medication administration (including recording-keeping, storage and transportation) procedures;
  • a written request has been received from the parent for the administering of medication. This relates to all prescription and non-prescription medication (including over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol, anti-histamines or alternative medicines);
  • administered medication is supported by a medical authority (the original medication container with an attached prescription pharmacy label constitutes such authority).

Schools should not:

  • administer analgesics (e.g. aspirin or paracetamol) as a standard first aid strategy;
  • allow the use of medication by anyone other than the prescribed student.

Suggested Strategies for Medication Administration

Schools should adopt the following strategies for the administering of medication:

  • Administer medication directly from the original medication container.
  • If the information on the medication container contradicts the request of the parent/carer, do not administer medication and seek clarification from the parent.
  • For prescription medication, ensure the pharmacy label is attached to the original container and includes the:
    • student name
    • strength and description of medication
    • dose and route (e.g. inhaled/orally) of administration
    • correct storage information
    • timing of medication administration
    • medication expiry date
    • pharmacist’s details.
  • Check and adhere to pharmacy label instructions prior to administering (e.g. ‘to be taken with food’).
  • Ensure the:
    • correct medication
    • correct student
    • correct dose
    • correct time
    • correct route (e.g. inhaled/orally)
    • correct documentation.
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