Skills for the Job: First aid training

First aid in youth work environments is crucial, as St John Ambulance training development manager Clive James explains

How important is it to learn first aid?

Every year, up to 150,000 people die in situations where first aid could have given them the chance to live, according to the Office for National Statistics’ death registration data. Knowing what to do in an emergency can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved, so it is vital that everyone learns and maintains this important skill.
What health and safety regulations should youth work environments adhere to and how many trained first aiders do they need?

We’d recommend youth work environments follow the advice for workplaces as this is seen as best practice. They should abide by the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, which require workplaces to have adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and staff to enable first aid to be given. Also, organisations should check the rules of any regulating bodies or affiliations related to their youth organisation. The larger the workplace, the higher the number of first aiders required. A risk assessment will determine how many first aiders are needed.
What training should youth workers undertake?

A First Aid at Work (Health and Safety Executive-approved) course covers the practical skills needed by a first aider in the modern workplace. The three-day course will give staff the confidence and knowledge to deal with first aid emergencies, including resuscitation and training in using a first aid kit. If you work with young children up to the age of eight, St John Ambulance has a two-day Early Years First Aid course, which includes childhood conditions such as meningitis, measles and croup.
What equipment should youth clubs stock?

A youth club should stock a standard workplace kit. This will include basics such as plasters, dressings and cleansing wipes. As young people are prone to injuries more often than adults, staff should also assess whether they need to stock extra supplies. When on trips and excursions, a risk assessment of the activities must be carried out to evaluate any potential dangers. For example, in the case of a trek, thermal blankets are a valuable addition to first aid kits in case a young person suffers a fracture and is unable to be moved until help has arrived.
What should a youth worker do if a young person sustains an injury?

In the case of severe bleeding:
  • Apply direct pressure over the wound with your hand using a clean dressing. If you don’t have a dressing, ask him to apply pressure himself
  • Maintain direct pressure on the wound to control bleeding
  • Help him lie down. Raise and support the injured limb above the level of his heart to reduce blood loss
  • Raise legs to ease shock
  • Call 999/112 and monitor him while waiting for help to arrive.
In the case of a choking child:
  • Get her to cough. If this doesn’t clear the obstruction, support her upper body and help her lean forward
  • Give up to five sharp back blows between her shoulder blades with the heel of your hand
  • If the obstruction has not cleared, stand behind her and put both arms around the upper part of the abdomen
  • Clench your fist and put between the navel and bottom of her breastbone
  • Grasp your fist firmly with your other hand, pull sharply inwards and upwards up to five times
  • If this doesn’t clear the obstruction repeat backslaps and abdominal thrusts up to three times
  • If it still hasn’t cleared, call 999/112 for help. Continue until help arrives.
For strains and sprains:
  • Help him to sit or lie down and support the injured part in a position that’s comfortable
  • Apply a cold compress to the injury to reduce the pain and swelling, making sure that the ice does not come into direct contact with the skin
  • Apply comfortable support to the injury such as a layer of soft padding
  • Support the injury in a raised position and check the circulation around the bandage every 10 minutes. Loosen the bandage if needed
  • If the pain is severe, go to hospital.



St John Ambulance
Health and Safety Executive

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