Most first aid certificates last for 3 years, some for just one year. In between, your knowledge and possible ability to respond, naturally fades. If we deal with very few incidents in the workplace, this lack of practice in skills is compounded and can lead to a poor response to an incident.
There is no legal obligation to provide first aiders with formal training during the intervening 3 year periods. However, HSE guidance states that employers are encouraged to allow first aiders time for ‘self-directed revision’ in order to maintain their first aid skills. In reality, this may not always be a practical.
One of the things we stress in our courses is confidence as well as competence. If you’re having trouble remembering which way that sling goes on or the techniques in stopping a major bleed, reassuring your casualty is made all that harder.
Regular self-directed or team refreshers in between first aid courses will help you retain your competence as well as your confidence.
Here’s our 7 top tips in helping you retain your first aid knowledge.
1. Practice makes permanent – watch one of our First Aid videos
Most techniques we demonstrate in our first aid courses have a relevant demonstration video on our YouTube channel.
You can search the channel if you’re looking for a particular topic or scroll through and randomly refresh your skills. But these are practical demonstrations – try and replicate them in a workplace session or at home with family. Pay attention to the words used as well as the practical techniques.
They are good, short 2-3 minute demonstration videos of good first aid techniques.
2. Digital First Aid Manuals
Every participant on our courses gets a free digital first aid manual. These are excellent up to date resources that are at your fingertips. They can be downloaded onto your phone, tablet or printed off for reference copy at home, a vehicle or in the workplace. On a device, they only take the same space as 3-4 photos.
Once you open the manual and go to the contents page, you select the topic you want to look up. You are then automatically taken to that page where you’ll find detail on signs & symptoms and what to do. Some pages have links to videos on our YouTube channel for practical techniques or blogs on our website for more detailed information.
It’s a useful document to dip in to on a regular basis to refresh your skills. Seen something on the news about an incident or accident and wondered “what’s the first aid for that?” Have a look in your manual.
We have a range of first aid manuals including First Aid at Work, Equestrian First Aid, Outdoor First Aid, Paediatric First Aid and Sports First Aid. You can find out more about our range of first aid manuals via this link.
3. Using ‘What ifs’ to refresh and plan your first aid response.
In some workplaces, there is the need to stress the importance of leadership in addressing organisational safety. Everyone is responsible for health and safety at work but corporate governance of safety is a legal requirement. The influence of managerial leadership on workplace safety climate is profound in good and bad ways. A safe workplace that takes its safety of its staff and customers is a much happier workplace!
Where I used to work, we had a regular first aid or emergency response item on our standard monthly meeting agenda. If something had happened in the past month, we’d discuss it, chat through our response and share the experience with the wider team. If nothing had happened, we randomly pick a first aid incident and a location and discuss how we would respond.
In this way, when something did happen, we were, as a team, much better prepared and confident in our response to that incident.
4. First Aid posters in the workplace.
Most workplaces have a health & safety notice board or just a staff notice board.
You can get a free download of First Aid Incident Response poster from our website here. That’s the poster with ABCDE essentials on it – a great quick reference and refresher tool for emergency situations.
You could also print off pages from the manual, post them on the board and change them regularly to keep people engaged and informed.
5. Read more and learn more about first aid in just a few minutes
If you’re reading this, you’re already using the blog facility on our website. We have over 300 blogs on different topics. These delve into the topics in more detail giving you a better understanding of the topic, its causes and of course the appropriate first aid. Many of them have links to other resources and sites relevant to the topic. They also cover legal responsibilities and any changes to first aid that come into force.
There’s a blog search facility on the blogs page and a set of first aid categories so you can surf through your sector related posts or search for something specific. Blogs are a great resource and most are only a 3 or 4 minute read and a great way to keep up to date and refreshed.
6. What should you have in your first aid kit?
What is really in your first aid kit? Do you know?
It is always advised that you have a first aid kit ‘monitor’ who checks the first aid kits regularly (monthly is suggested) and replaces out of date or missing items. (The most common things to go missing are gloves, scissors and plasters. )
Do you regularly check your own kit at work, in your car and at home? Do you know what’s in there? There are a lot of pockets and sections in some kits and knowing where everything is will help in an emergency. Some larger kits are set out in ABC arrangement with Airway / Breathing face shields then Circulation kit such as bandages. Having a logical layout inside a first aid kit helps everyone in time of need. It’s also good to read the instructions where the product has them.
Spend some time getting up close and personal with your first aid kit – before you need to use it!
And what should be in all those kits? Read more in our blog here.
7. Use a short first aid course as a refresher or skills developer
On line refresher courses are very useful as a refresher tool but there are also some courses available that look into some topics in more detail.
Our Annual Update for First Aid online course covers the important incident response procedure – the ABCs, Recovery Position, CPR and defibrillator use.
Other short courses available via our website include a course on Deeper Understanding of Concussion and another on A Deeper Understanding of Hypothermia. All of these short online courses can be found on our website and they only cost £30 each. Great affordable CPD that keeps you updated and upskilled!
You could also consider doing a one day Emergency First Aid at Work course with your team or join a public course yourself. We can also run courses with an additional one hour of specific content for sectors including Forestry, Paediatric, Outdoors and Equestrian.