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How Do We Protect People During The Disaster Gap?

Posted: 23/03/2021

Categories: Emergency Response & Preparedness

During an active emergency, time is critical, and the longer an injured or seriously ill person is left without medical care, the greater the chance of a tragedy.

Brigadier Timothy Hodgetts discussed the problem of a “disaster gap”, the time between an accident happening and a person with medical training appearing to help, in the Manchester Arena inquiry.

In most situations, unless emergency services are stationed at a particular location, there will be a delay between a disaster happening and trained medical professionals hitting the scene.

This means that in those first critical moments, the difference between life and death will be in the hands of people at the scene.

Because of this, first aid response training is incredibly vital, and every workplace should have people who are appropriately trained not only in basic first aid but also in techniques directly related to their workplace.

Here are some suggestions for how to protect people during an emergency and close the disaster gap.


Focus On The Fundamentals

First aid care is based on two sets of three basic principles, known as the “Three Cs” and the “Three Ps”. The former is the initial process when you see someone who is injured and includes, according to the NHS;

  • Check –Make sure that the area is safe and neither you nor the injured person are in further danger. If it is safe for you to do so, make sure they are in a safe situation.
  • Call – When it is safe to do so, call the emergency services.
  • Care – Carry out first aid care to stabilise the injured person as well as possible before emergency services arrive.

The three P’s relate to the principles of how you administer first aid and include;

  • Preserve Life –Undertake basic first aid procedures to ensure a seriously injured person remains alive during these critical moments.
  • Prevent Deterioration –Once their life is no longer in danger, ensure they are comfortable, protected from further injury and unlikely to deteriorate further.
  • Promote Recovery – Once they are safe, stabilised and unlikely to deteriorate, attempt to relieve pain and take steps that encourage a fast and full recovery.

As well as more specialised training, ensuring these principles are in place for both basic first aiders and also designated safety officers and more specialised first aid practitioners will save lives in the case of an emergency.


Needs And Risk Assessment

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that any employees who are injured or become very ill at work receive immediate medical attention, which can help to stop a minor accident from becoming a major emergency.

Preventing accidents occurring in the first place is an even better intervention, and so your risk assessments and first aid needs assessments are critical, particularly for workplaces with inherent risks involved.

Think about the nature of your workplace, the learning experience which can be taken from previous accidents, work patterns, how remotely your workplace is from emergency services, and whether you have remote or lone workers who would have separate first aid needs.


Adopt Equipment To Help Reduce Blood Loss

A discussion point in the recent Manchester Arena inquiry looked into the use of equipment that can help reduce blood loss quickly that had proven controversial in the world of first aid.

These include the use of haemostatic equipment such as pressure dressings to quickly reduce blood loss as well as tourniquets.

Widely used in the military, tourniquets have increasingly seen use to stop catastrophic blood loss in emergency services, with Brigadier Hodgetts arguing that adding tourniquet application training to civilian and workplace first aid training could have saved lives.

A tourniquet should only be used as a last resort when all other first-aid measures have failed, except in the case of amputation, and must be used correctly with the time it was applied noted on the device and patient themselves to ensure they are quickly treated in a hospital.


More Education, Faster Intervention

Try to ensure you have as many members of staff trained in first aid at some level, as this can aid not only in rapid intervention but also in the prevention of accidents.

Most workplaces have appointed persons to take charge of the first-aid arrangements in your workplace, such as stocking and restocking the first aid kits, ensuring equipment needed for medical intervention is available, as well as being the designated person to call the emergency services.

As well as this, any staff working in a dangerous environment should have basic first aid training as part of their workplace safety training, and other staff should have the option.

This ensures that staff are ready to intervene in case of emergency and knowledgable enough to prevent avoidable accidents.


If you would like any further advice on your First Aid Needs Assessment, or the level of first aid response training and first aid equipment within your business, please get in touch