Now that most companies have returned to work, “back to work safety” has become the name of the game. LIANA SHAW showcases some of the initiatives and training solutions on offer by companies specialising in the field of first aid

St John – a provider of first aid education and training in South Africa since 1883 – reports that its organisation is acutely aware of the current needs of employers and employees as they navigate the “new normal” in the workplace.

“As companies start to bring their employees back to work, it is essential that they understand the recommended and safe use and disposal of personal protection equipment (PPE), handwashing and social distancing,” says Ruth Kolevsohn, training director.

“For this reason, we are offering ‘Back to Work’ webinars for companies and individuals, and are providing staff screening of SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) symptoms by trained medical personnel with appropriate PPE.”

Kolevsohn says there is an increasing demand from St John’s customers to resume first aid training (as soon as total lockdown is lifted and classroom-based training is permitted). In the meantime, its First Aid Level 1 e-learning courses are being offered via webinars.

St John offers First Aid Level 1, 2 and 3, as well as community healthcare certificate courses, skills programmes and full qualifications, including Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) accredited Health Care (NQF Level 1), Community Health Work (NQF Levels 2 and 4), Occupational Health, Safety and Environment. In addition, they offer a Health Promotion Officer (NQF Level 3) qualification and short courses such as CPR, Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, as well as Advanced Cardiac Life Support, which are accredited by the American Heart Association (AHA) and Resuscitation Council of Southern Africa (RCSA).

First aid training and development is a major focus for governments across the world including South Africa, according to Kolevsohn. Locally, government’s current focus on decentralised healthcare means there is more interest from NGOs and their donors to fund the training of first aiders and community healthcare workers across the country.

An extensive range of training solutions such as Emergency and Medical Training (First Aid Level 1, 2 and 3 Courses), Basic First Aid, followed by a First Aid Refresher Course, a CPR & AED Course and an HIV/Aids Awareness Course, is also on offer by Emcare. The company provides a wide range of health and safety training options too, among them, Health and Safety Induction, Accident Investigation, Risk Assessment, Safety Officer Training, Legal Liability and much more.

St John is not the only company focusing on first aid-related training during the pandemic. Jason Delport, director of Emcare, reveals that his company’s priority has been to develop Covid-19 awareness programmes by way of an online course, which is now available to customers.
As for the balance of their product offering, the company has decided not to put all the health and safety courses online. Instead, a hard copy pack containing certain sections of the course material, which have been identified as especially useful, is being sent to learners. This will provide them with the opportunity to go through the subjects at their own pace while still being able to make traditional pen notes. The theoretical assessments are then done online using their EduCert learner management programme, with a final practical assessment being completed at one of their training centres, where an assessor will assess and moderate the learner’s skills.

Smartphones in training
Delport says that, with the onset of smartphones, advances in first aid technology have come a long way.

“You can now download a mobile app like the First Aid & Symptom Search app to glean information on how to handle emergency situations that may require first aid,” he explains. “With its extensive Medical Health Guide, it can direct you, step by step, through various first aid procedures. And as a bonus, it can be accessed offline during medical emergencies, which is especially important if you’re in a location without internet service.”

Other notable smartphone apps include: The First Aid app; the Hero app; the Pet First Aid app and the Natural Disaster app. “Social media has also become a critical resource in helping organisations plan ahead and help people during emergencies,” he says. “With the assistance of multinational computer company Dell, the Red Cross now runs three successful digital operation centres that allow for natural disasters to be monitored, thus enabling organisations like the Red Cross to send help where it is needed the most.”

Innovations also worth mentioning include VetiGel (an injectable wound-clotting solution currently only approved for animal use), which could soon be released for human use, the Kardia (an FDA-cleared, mobile electrocardiogram device that conveniently attaches to your smartphone) and the Gale (a modern take on the traditional first-aid kit), featuring several compartments that are fully stocked with various medical tools, ranging from bandages to a pulse oximeter device. And even more impressive, a touchscreen display provides access to valuable instructions on how to handle common injuries.

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