The HSE have revised the Emergency First Aid and First Aid at Work syllabuses following the changes to Resuscitation Council UK guidelines on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in October 2015. The revision requires all workplace first aiders to be trained in the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) from the 31 December 2016. This meets the Resuscitation Council UK guidelines which now state that the management of a casualty requiring CPR is to request an AED.
More and more organisations and public areas have a defibrillator so it is great news that even more people will be trained to use them. As an organisation, you do not have to buy a defibrillator unless your first aid needs assessment shows a need for one.
How to assess the need for an AED – based on 2 variables;
1. The likelihood of cardiac arrest occurring
The risk of an arrest occurring varies according to several factors, each of which should be considered.
- The number of people passing through the site/footfall. In most cases, the larger the number present, the greater the risk.
- The age of those present (as cardiac arrest is commoner with increasing age).
- The nature of the location. Some places are at higher risk than others. Experience has shown that where large numbers of the public are present in busy places like transport hubs (e.g. airports and railway stations) cardiac arrests are more likely to occur. In other places, the nature of the work undertaken (e.g. the use of toxic chemicals) may be relevant to deciding on the need to invest in an AED.
2. The consequences (severity) of cardiac arrest occurring
However, cardiac arrest is uniformly fatal (unless treated). Even if resuscitation is successful, the impact on the individual will be significant, for example, they will be in hospital for some time and will probably require additional clinical interventions, Common causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest include: Asphyxiation, drowning, circulation problems, electrocution, heart diseases, hypothermia, metabolic changes, respiratory problems and trauma to the chest.
Statistics for workplace fatalities/injuries:
- • 137 workers killed at work in 2016/17 (The majority of which were in the construction, agriculture, waste, transport and storage industries.)
- • 92 members of the public were killed due to work-related activities in 2016/17
- • In 2015/16 An estimated 621,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury at work according to self-reports. (Labour Force Survey – LFS). Of these injuries:
– 200,000 led to over 3 days absence from work; of which
– 152,000 led to over 7 days of absence
Having an AED on site is your PLAN A!
The best chance of successful resuscitation will be when defibrillation and other first aid procedures are carried out with the minimum delay (ideally within the first three minutes). The chances of survival fall by at least 20% with every minute that passes without defibrillation so there is a very real advantage in having an AED available on site. Figures of 75% survival rates have been reported when defibrillation is performed within three minutes of someone collapsing, a time frame rarely possible for the ambulance service who aim to reach the majority of urgent calls within eight minutes. Last year “The Independent” reported that Ambulances in the UK failed to reach 75% of their most serious 999 calls within 8 minutes meaning that having an AED on site gives you and your workforce the best chance of survival in the event of a cardiac arrest.
REMEMBER – Time is of the essence in a resuscitation scenario.
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