man in white dress shirt wearing blue face mask

Donning and Doffing PPE Safely in First Aid Incidents

Healthcare staff take a great deal of care with the safe donning (putting on) and doffing (removing) PPE.

You can see a video from Public Health England for healthcare workers below:

Public Health England: Donning Personal Protective Equipment

However, these guidelines are difficult for a first aid worker to follow, as they may not have the same equipment as health care workers.

In first aid situations, a first aider should try to copy the actions of healthcare workers to minimise potential COVID-19 contamination and spread.

Before we begin, always remember the basics. Keep your hands away from your face and regularly perform hand hygiene by alcohol hand gel or with soap and water.

Donning (putting on) PPE

This should be done at least 2 metres from the casualty, as part of your scene assessment.

  1. Clean hands, remove rings and tie back hair
  2. Put on a face mask. Make sure the mask covers mouth and nose, don’t touch the front of the mask when worn.
  3. Put on eye protection if you have it. Normal glasses are not as effective as goggles and are not recommended as protection against infections.
  4. Put on gloves. A single layer is acceptable but ideally double gloving is ideal, with hand gel between the glove layers. Gloves should cover the wrist.

Now you can approach the casualty and follow the first aid during COVID-19 steps detailed in this blog post.

Doffing (removal and disposal) of PPE

This critical part should be done once the incident is over and you have moved away from the casualty.

  1. Prepare a waste bag to put disposable items in.
  2. Take off your gloves. Use the first glove to grab the cuff of the other glove and peel it off. Leave this removed glove in the hand with the glove inside out. To remove the second glove, slide the fingers of the ungloved hand under the wrist of the gloved hand and peel the remaining glove over the removed glove and place in the waste bag.
  3. Clean your hands with alcohol gel or soap and water.
  4. Remove eye protection and place in the waste bag.
  5. Clean your hands again with alcohol gel or soap and water.
  6. Remove your face mask carefully, touching only the strap, as the front of the mask should be considered contaminated. Place this in a disposal bag.
  7. Clean hands with alcohol gel or soap and water.
  8. If you are wearing double gloves only peel off the remaining layer of gloves. Place in the waste bag and continue with more hand hygiene.
Removing gloves safely

There is potential for the virus to be on the outer surface of your clothing. Wash your clothes on a high heat setting when you get home. At all times try and prevent touching your face with your hands.

This may not all be possible in a real first aid situation but sticking as closely as possible to the guidance will help to reduce potential infection.