When securing first aid instructors, it is highly recommended you engage certified instructors who have real-world response experience.

First Aid Readiness: Information, Preparation, Assessment, and Response

With such a broad description for OSHA first aid compliance, the responsibility of defining the various components of first aid response and preparedness lies solely on the employer.

Under OSHA 1910.151, employers are required to have medical personnel available for advice and consultation on matters of health, a person or persons adequately trained to render first aid, and proper first aid supplies on site. And because workplaces do not have the same occupational injuries or environmental hazards, OSHA stipulates first aid training be specific to the workplace.

With such a broad description for OSHA first aid compliance, the responsibility of defining the various components of first aid response and preparedness lies solely on the employer: levels of first aid training for employees, number of personnel to be trained, designated area for immediate emergency use, proper first aid supplies, and policies and procedures for your medical personnel to follow when administering first aid and more.

When creating a first aid program or streamlining an existing program, consider using a simple four-step process: Information, Preparation, Assessment and Response, or IPAR.

The first step is to gather relevant information such as previous injuries and environmental hazard incidents logs and reports. Conducting a hazard and risk analysis of your workplace and studying past injury logs will help determine the types of injuries or medical emergencies that occur most commonly at your facility. This information will help you determine the number of employees needed to be trained and the level of training.

Training should be specific to the needs of your workplace. Do you need employees trained with basic first aid skills such as CPR and AED, or do you need employees trained with EMT-type skills? At a minimum, every workplace should have employees trained in CPR and AED use.

Once the number of employee responders is identified and the level of training determined, gather the information on what types of injuries or medical issues occurred last year and what equipment and supplies were used. Using this information, itemize the types of medical supplies and equipment that will be required and designate the location or locations in your facility to place the supplies for immediate emergency access. You may need to consider several first aid supply areas so that first aid bags and medical supplies are readily available throughout your facility.

The Information gathered and analyzed should be included in your formal written plan. If you have a first aid plan already in place, use this Information for the purpose of improving injury/medical response outcomes and identifying any training deficiency that may need to be addressed in your current plan.

In this second step, we begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together based on our Information gathering. There are two essential components to address in the Preparation step:

1. Employee responder training

2. Procuring first aid equipment and supplies

Employee responder training: Once your employee medical responders are identified, it's time to find a qualified instructor and create a training schedule. The methods of training can include instructor-led at your facility, train-the-trainer so your employees are instructors, and online courses.

When securing first aid instructors, it is highly recommended you engage certified instructors who have real-world response experience. Responding to a life-threatening injury must be timely and first aid properly administered, making it critical that your employee medical responders receive "the best of the best" first aid training.

Procuring equipment and supplies: First aid equipment and supplies should have been identified from your evaluation during the Information phase, and this should be just a matter of finding a good supplier for your first aid inventory. Since your first aid program is specific to your workplace, be careful purchasing already built, pre-packaged, first aid kits. These kits may not have all of the items you need.

You may want to create your own "first aid kits" by giving the suppliers an itemized list. As for quantities, remember that first aid equipment and supplies need to be readily available in or near the proximities of your employee responders, so the larger your facility, the more locations you will need to supply.

If you already have a medical response plan, then the Preparation phase should address any training deficiency that resulted from the Information phase, as well as provide a list of equipment and supplies that needs to be either added or replaced.

Now that you have the equipment and all of the employee responders trained, your next step is the Assessment phase.

The Assessment phase is where you will put your plan to the test, confirm that the right equipment has been secured, and observe each of your employee responder's first aid readiness.

In the Assessment phase, you should conduct mock medical drills to ensure the employee responders follow the written plan, perform the correct patient assessment and administer the proper treatment, and make sure the equipment is correct and staged in the designated locations for a quick employee responder response.

After performing several drills, the Assessment results may require you to revisit the Information phase to make changes and revisions to your plan. Based on your observations, you also may find that additional training, as well as specific skills refresher training, is needed for your employee responders.

If you already have a medical response plan in place, then this phase should be used to reassess your team, verify that the mock drills are working, and, based on your observations, identify some specific skills refresher training that may be needed for your employee responders. This phase also should be used to re-evaluate the qualifications and real-world experience of your instructors to ensure you are providing the “best of the best” training to your response team.

After any medical response, a debrief with the employee responders should be conducted shortly after to discuss the incident—what went well and what not so well—and to identify any deficiency in the medical response plan. This is also a good time to identify training needs assessment.

Did the employee responders feel confident in their abilities? What areas/topic would they like additional training on? Did they follow the response plan and, if so, did it work correctly, or are there procedures in the plan that need to be updated? Was the equipment where it was supposed to be and, if so, was it all there, and was it in good working order?

Update Your Plan Regularly

The IPAR process should be repeated annually to re-evaluate your plan and if necessary, make changes in your procedures, training, and first aid supplies and equipment. The IPAR process will help you keep your plan updated while you and your employee responders focus on first aid readiness.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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