First aid hygiene is a must in all cases of first aid scenarios to protect and minimize risks of infection both to the victim and the first aider.
First aid hygiene is a must in all cases of first aid scenarios. In all cases where a person provides first aid, the first aider should be aware of the potential danger for themselves and the victim. Danger is either classified as environmental danger or human danger. Environmental danger consists of any potential danger from the surrounding, such as broken glass, venomous animals, or chemicals, whilst human danger consists of danger from people at the scene, including the victim, whether it is intentional or accidental.
Several activities done during a first aid response may cause contamination, which may include: physical examination of a casualty, handling instruments or equipments that are infected with blood or other body substances, direct contact with the body secretions or excretions, and going to the toilet.
First Aid Hygiene: Standard Precaution
Taking these standard precautions is part of first aid hygiene to control infection. It is necessary to take the extra precautions to prevent contact with potentially infectious materials, which may include:
- Avoid all contact with potentially contaminated objects.
- Thoroughly wash hands with water and soap before and after giving first aid.
- Ensure to wear personal protective equipment.
- Use waterproof dressings to cover exposed cuts and grazes.
- Avoid hand-to-mouth contact, especially eating and drinking, while giving first aid.
- Immerse all dirty clothing in household grade bleach for at least 30 minutes before normally washing.
- Make sure that one does not re-contaminate oneself while handling soiled and/ or contaminated clothing.
- If handling multiple casualties, change gloves before moving on to the next victim to avoid cross-infection.
- If a first aider thinks that he/ she is contaminated by body fluids.
First Aid Hygiene: Personal Protective Equipment
The topmost priority of any first aider is keeping oneself protected by being aware of the surroundings and the situation, while remaining alert for any changes. Once one is aware of the possible hazards in the environment, one can minimize the risks to oneself. By making use of personal protective equipment, one can minimize risks of cross contamination. Some of the personal protective equipment for first aid hygiene can include:
- Gloves: protect key contact point with the victim while allowing a person to work in increased safety
- Safety glasses or goggles: prevents spurting fluid from eye contact
- Apron or protective gown: protects the rescuer’s clothing from contamination
- Enclosed footwear
- Filter breathing mask: to filter out harmful chemicals or pathogens
First Aid Hygiene: Improvisation
In many cases of first aid scenarios, a first aid kit is not readily available,
thus it is necessary to improvise materials and equipment. Some of the possible improvisation to maintain first aid hygiene can include:
- Gloves: plastic bags, dish gloves, leather work gloves
- Gauze: clean clothing, bedding or towel
- Splints: plastic, cardboard, metal, or straight sections of wood
- Slings: bottom hem of the victim’s shirt pinned to the centre of the chest
- Stretcher: heavy blanket
Disclaimer: This article and information given should not be substituted for formal training. Enrol in First Aid Courses with St Mark James Training to learn more about proper first aid hygiene.