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close this bookThe Organization of First Aid in the Workplace (ILO, 1999, 70 p.)
close this folder5. The training of first-aid personnel
View the document5.1. General considerations
Open this folder and view contents5.2. Basic training
View the document5.3. Advanced training
View the document5.4. Training material and institutions
View the document5.5. Certification

5.1. General considerations

It has previously been noted that first-aid personnel are people on the spot, generally workers who are familiar with the specific conditions of work, and that they are not medically qualified but must be trained and prepared to perform very specific tasks. Besides the selection of the people to be appointed, the training of first-aid personnel is the single most important factor determining the effectiveness of organized first aid.

Not every worker will be suitable to be trained for providing first aid. Potential first-aiders should be motivated, and should possess a high level of comprehension and an ability to make decisions. They should be emotionally stable and able to cope with human beings in a crisis situation. They must be reliable. Employers must carefully and responsibly select first-aid personnel in accordance with these criteria. In the process they should seek cooperation and advice from the occupational health physician or nurse, if available, from the health and safety committee and, as appropriate, from outside physicians or other health personnel.

Training first-aid personnel once is not enough. Refresher training will be necessary from time to time. All this will take time and cost money. A prerequisite for success is that the persons selected are willing to give at least some of their free time. However, most of the time needed for training and retraining first-aid personnel, and the time spent on drills and other activities related to first aid, is usually made part of working time.

Training programmes will depend on many factors, including the variables discussed in section 4.1, especially the type of work and the associated risk involved. Ultimately, however, the programmes must respond to the functional tasks to be fulfilled by first-aid personnel.

A distinction was made in subsection 4.3.2 between two types of first-aid personnel (basic and advanced), depending on the likely complexity and severity of the situations they may have to deal with. This implies that their training also involved two levels:

(a) a basic programme of training adapted to the needs of all first-aiders, which will normally suffice for situations involving low risks at work;

(b) an advanced programme of training for situations involving higher, unusual or special risks. This programme would address the tasks of the advanced-level first-aider and would be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the basic programme of training.