Episode 42 – First Aid


Toolbox Topic: First Aid

Today, we’re talking about first aid. Accidents or injuries can happen at any time, and it’s essential that you are prepared. Every workplace should have someone to assist during emergencies. However, they might not always be nearby when an incident occurs. That’s why everyone should know some basic first aid and how to respond until help arrives.


First Aid Definition

First aid is the initial help given to a sick or injured person until medical treatment is available. It often involves simple, life-saving techniques that can be performed with minimal equipment. This can include stopping bleeding, performing CPR, applying bandages, or simply providing reassurance.


First aid doesn’t necessarily require any specific equipment or prior knowledge. However, training is strongly recommended to maximize effectiveness and reduce the risk of further injury. First aid can often help improve the victim’s chances of recovery or survival.


The History of First Aid

The French German War

Our journey begins in the heart of 19th-century Germany. A time when wars were common and medical resources scarce. In this chaotic backdrop emerged a man who would change the way we respond to emergencies. His name? Friedrich Esmarch."


Born in 1823, Esmarch became a soldier and surgeon serving in the German army. The tumultuous French-German War revealed to him the horrifying reality of battlefield injuries. It was clear to him that there was an urgent need for immediate medical intervention.


Turn Oridnary Citizens into Emergency Responders

In the War of 1848, he was a junior surgeon. Later he was appointed to surgeon in a field hospital, and in 1849, he was promoted to senior surgeon. Esmarch saw that soldiers wounded in battle often died before reaching a hospital. But he had a solution. A system where life-saving medical aid would reach wounded soldiers faster. What if we equipped units with essential medical supplies such as bandages, splints, and tourniquets that anyone could use? This system would turn ordinary people into emergency responders.


In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War broke out, and he was appointed surgeon-general to the army.


Esmarch’s Legacy

Although, Esmarch’s widely acclaimed for his first aid manuals that are recognized as invaluable guides on the subject, what immortalized him was the Esmarch bandage. It’s a three-sided piece of cotton or linen, of which the base measures 4 feet and the sides 2 feet 10 inches. It can be used folded or open and applied in thirty-two different ways. It’s used to tightly wrap around a wounded limb to control bleeding and prevent shock. This was a game-changer and is still used today.


Beyond the realm of first aid, Esmarch proved himself a surgical pioneer too. He introduced innovative techniques that would minimize the risk of infection post-surgery. In 1887, he was conferred a patent of nobility by the German emperor William I and Esmarch’s legacy continues to this day.


First Aid Statistics

First aid is most effective when it is provided immediately after the injury. CPR given right away can double the chances of survival. This is because CPR helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain.


Applying cold water to a burn within 20 minutes can prevent the burn from worsening and improve the overall outcome.


Studies show that first aid saves lives and reduces the severity of injuries. In addition, first aid significantly reduces the number of deaths from non-fatal injuries.


First Aid Safey Tips

Safety Tip #1 A Proactive Mindset

Let’s always start with a proactive mindset. Clearly understand the dangers of your job, especially the ones that could cause accidents or injuries. When you know about the dangers, you can work to avoid them. Pay attention during safety meetings and training sessions. If you’re prepared, you can help yourself or others if an accident happens.


Safety Tip#2: Company Policies for Emergencies

All companies should have specific procedures to follow in emergencies. Everyone should understand these procedures to avoid confusion. Familiarity with the procedures can help you stay calm and keep you safe.


Safety Tip #3 Maintenance

Chainsaw maintenance and inspection: Regularly inspect and maintain your chainsaw to ensure it is in good working order. This includes sharpening the chain, adjusting the tension, and checking the fuel and oil levels.


Safety Tip #4: Emergency Contacts

If a medical emergency occurs, someone in the company should be informed, usually a manager or supervisor. If life threatening emergencies, dial 911 immediately.


Safety Tip #5: Know Your Workplace Location

In emergencies, you will need to know your company’s address and your specific location so help can arrive promptly.  

Safety Tip #6: Perpare for Emergencies

Hold regular meetings to review emergency protocols, even if you don’t expect to be first aid trained. Everyone should consider their potential role in an emergency. This should also be outlined in the company’s emergency procedures policy.


Safety Tip #7: First Aid Contents

First aid kits come in various sizes and contain various items. Check OSHA appendix A to § 1910.266 for mandatory minimums. Also, someone should be assigned to check first aid kits regularly and ensure they are adequately stocked. Create an inventory checklist to ensure that your 1st aid kit is always fully stocked as an alternative there are third parties that can provide this service.


Safety Tip #8: Understanding AEDs

Some workplaces have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This life-saving device can be used even without training but learning how to use one is highly recommended.


Safety Tip #9: First Aid Basics

While waiting for paramedics to arrive, providing basic first aid could be vital. Even if you’re not the official first aid person, all workers should know where first aid kits are located, who is trained in first aid, and how to reach them immediately.

If the first aid-trained person can’t be located, you may need to apply pressure to stop bleeding, apply bandages, or stay with the person until help arrives. As always, follow your company’s policy.


Safety Tip #10: Reporting

Report every accident, whether it’s a minor injury or a serious one. This ensures proper medical care is given when it’s needed. Some companies may impose disciplinary action against employees who do not report incidents.


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