Updates to First Aid Best Practices
Safety is the attractions industry’s No. 1 priority, and it is essential to create safe experiences for guests and staff members. Here are some tips on providing first aid assistance in a safe and effective manner as COVID-19 continues to be of concern.
PPE for First Aid Personnel
As front-line providers of medical assistance, first aid providers at attractions need to be provided with the right personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Due to the high transmission rate from COVID-19, PPE is central to providing a safe interaction between the first aider and the [injured individual],” says Shawn McLaren, chief learning officer with the St. John Ambulance Saint-Jean Canada organization. “The first aider should apply as much PPE as possible, which could include gloves, face shield, gown, and mask. As well, when performing CPR, a one-way barrier device should be applied. Most of these will cover the mouth and nose of the [subject].”
A rule of thumb to keep in mind when treating patients during the pandemic, “always follow the bloodborne pathogens protocol,” says Kenneth R. Martin, an amusement ride safety analyst and consultant with KRM Consulting in Richmond, Virginia, referring to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) on occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. “This includes the wearing of the proper PPE,” which should be available at first aid stations and treatment rooms, with provisions made for social distancing.
Update First Aid Kits
Most first aid kits include disposable gloves and one-way barriers. While operating during the pandemic, attractions should increase the amount of these supplies, along with disposable gowns, face shields, and masks.
“If you don’t have a mass casualty incident (MCI) kit, you might want to consider having several of them throughout your facility,” Martin says. “Most important is to go through each and every first aid kit and storage lockers and remove any expired supplies. If the package is still sealed but discolored, throw it away.”
Worth noting: “We are seeing a dramatic rise the in the number of accidental opioid poisonings (overdoses) and deaths related to those poisonings,” says McLaren. “This is why we are encouraging organizations to secure naloxone kits to reverse the effect of opioids, COVID-19 notwithstanding.”
Martin advises a wise strategy for amusement parks and attractions is to “make sure you have plenty of supplies that you would normally carry, along with the addition of PPE and naloxone kits. If you have a medical director or local EMS coordinator that you work with, be sure to check with them for their advice on any new supplies,” he says.
McLaren notes that first aid procedures themselves remain unchanged, other than the application of PPE for every interaction.
“There has been some discussion regarding performing compression only CPR due to COVID-19, but St. John Ambulance has taken the stance that where PPE and a one-way barrier are in place, CPR should include compressions and breaths (blowing into the victim’s mouth) should be employed,” McLaren says.
At no point should the patient’s mouth or nose be covered during this procedure with anything other than the one-way barrier, he adds. Should the first aider not be comfortable performing breaths, policies may provide the option of performing compression-only CPR.
Adjustments to Training and Drills
First aid training and drills should be evaluated to accommodate safety guidelines adopted during the pandemic. At St. John Ambulance Saint-Jean Canada, for instance, the organization has reduced the number of participants in classrooms to allow for proper physical distancing, along with requiring everyone to wear masks.
“We have removed any exercises that would require participants to come in contact with each other,” says McLaren. “Instead, exercises are now demonstrated on full-size manikins (human-shaped models used to help simulate medical, surgical, or clinical scenarios) or on one’s self. We’ve also encouraged people to take our blended learning, which reduces the amount of time a participant needs to spend in the classroom by half.”
Martin adds that it’s vital for first aid instructors to reinforce the training and education that first aiders have learned to date.
“If change is needed, follow directions from your local health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” he says.