First Aid

First Aid Needs Assessment

Schools are diverse workplaces which contain a complex range of safety hazards, so the risk assessment approach is the best way for a school to identify its first aid needs. This should be carried out in consultation with employees and / or health and safety representatives, and needs to consider:

  • The size and layout of the school.
  • Any high risk areas (Technology, Home Economics, Science).
  • The number of campuses.
  • The number of employees, students and volunteers in the workplace.
  • The nature of hazards.
  • Previous accident / incident data and trends.
  • Any authorised after hour’s programs or shift work.
  • The nature and location of school excursions and camps.
  • School leased / owned vehicles.
  • The location of the site (i.e. proximity to medical facilities).

Once completed, the risk assessment will identify the number of designated first aid officers needed, as well as the number, location and contents of first aid kits and if a first aid room is required. There is a first aid checklist in the Resources that can be used as a guide to identify where there may be gaps in first aid provision. Senior management should ensure it reviews the first aid risk assessment regularly to ensure suitable first aid needs are met.

First Aid Training

It is the responsibility of senior Management to ensure that Designated First Aid Officers have completed recognised first aid training, as a minimum Provide First Aid - HLTAID003 as well as an annual refresher for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) - HLTAID001. The level of training required should be determined by the risk assessment. Records of first aid training need to be kept and maintained as per local training record keeping requirements.

First Aid Officers

First aid officers provide initial care to 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 and care.

Schools must ensure that there are adequate staff trained in first aid that can assist ill / injured staff, students and others. The first aid risk assessment should be used 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 Kits

The first aid risk assessment will help to determine what the contents of first aid kits will be, as this may be different for each school. Regular inspections of first aid facilities, including a review of the first aid kits on-site, needs to be scheduled and conducted (recommend at least biannually). The First Aid Officer should also ensure that first aid kit contents are restocked regularly, as required.

As a guide, below is a list of contents that a first aid kit should contain as a minimum as per the First Aid Compliance Code: 

  • Basic first aid notes.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Resuscitation mask.
  • Individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings.
  • Sterile eye pads (packet).
  • Sterile coverings for serious wounds.
  • Triangular bandages
  • Safety pins
  • Small sterile unmedicated wound dressings.
  • Medium sterile unmedicated wound dressings.
  • Large sterile unmedicated wound dressings.
  • Non-allergenic tape.
  • Rubber thread or crepe bandage.
  • Scissors.
  • Tweezers.
  • Suitable book for recording details of first aid provided.
  • Sterile saline solution.
  • Plastic bags for disposal.

First Aid Rooms / Sick Bays

Where a school has determined that a first aid room is necessary, it will be located so as to be accessible to injured persons, be well-lit, ventilated and clearly identified with appropriate signage. Where a first aid room is not required, a sick bay can be provided. Below is a list of items that should be provided in a first aid room, as per the Compliance Code:

  • resuscitation mask
  • sink and wash basin with hot and cold water
  • work bench or dressing trolley
  • cupboards for storing medicaments, dressings and linen
  • a container for soiled dressing
  • a sharps disposal system
  • electric power points
  • a couch with blankets and pillows
  • an upright chair
  • a desk and telephone
  • signage indicating emergency telephone numbers
  • signage indicating emergency first aid procedures
  • a stretcher
  • a first aid kit appropriate for the workplace.

Communication with parents/carers

Senior management will ensure that parents / carers of an injured or ill student are notified, so that they can make arrangements to collect the student. Senior management will also make certain that requests for updated first aid information will be sent home, including requests for any updated asthma, diabetes and anaphylaxis management plans, high-priority medical forms, and reminders to parents of the policies and practices used by the school to manage first aid, illnesses and medications throughout the year.

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Automated External Defibrillators (AED)

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.

AEDs are not normally required in first aid kits or first aid room supplies in schools. It is up to each individual school when assessing first aid needs to determine the need, location and training required for an AED. Prospective AED operators should be trained in their correct use, and as a guide refresher training should be provided every 12 months.

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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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