Safety considerations for administering first aid

Safety considerations for administering first aid

Safety considerations for administering first aid

Mask / CPR barrier for artificial respiration by mouth-to-mouth (resuscitation).Many accredited courses incorporate learning to use a CPR breathing barriers into first aid training. Many also provide one as part of the course pack. Most pharmacies also stock these for consumers to purchase when stocking first aid kits for home and travel use. Disposable or re-usable devices are available for purchase.

Barriers are also available in standard sizes for children and infants, as well as for adults. Ideally, a variety of sizes should be carried by individuals trained in providing first aid care. Devices which are too big for, for instance a child, can result in air leakage which will not provide adequate rescue breathing technique, causing reduced ventilation capability. (7)

CPR breathing barriers are there for your safety when providing care to another who may unknowingly place you at risk of a health condition. Barriers can protect against contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or saliva, as well as exhaled air containing tiny droplets of moisture, which can carry infectious agents.

Barriers are designed as a small, portable ‘face shield’ which can still provide essential rescue breathing capability. One of the most popular and basic of barriers is designed as a thin and flat piece of transparent plastic (round or square), which can be placed over the mouth area of the person requiring assistance, with an opening in the centre for access to the mouth. The opening is fitted with a one-way valve which works as a filter, separating your mouth from the patient’s, providing protection from direct contact, while still delivering much needed air.

Close-up of a man with a CPR barrier placed in the mouth, ready for resuscitation assistance.

Another barrier device is a pocket mask which is also transparent and portable. It can be used to create a tight seal over a patient’s mouth and nose, preventing direct contact but also allowing for rescue breaths to be successfully given.

Another important safety consideration is handwashing. Hands exposed to potential transmission contaminants can also place a caregiver at risk of potential infectious illnesses.

It is important to wash your hands thoroughly with warm, running water and soap once you have handed over a patient to EMS or medical professionals, even if you wore disposable gloves at the time of administering care. Hands should be washed thoroughly, including the wrists, in between fingers, beneath the fingernails, palms and the back of the hands.

Hand sanitisers can also be used if running water and soap are not immediately available but must also be applied to all surfaces of the hands including the nails and in between the fingers. Sanitisers should be rubbed in well until the product dries. Once handwashing facilities become available, hands must be thoroughly washed.

Close-up of a person thoroughly washing their hands with soap and water.


7. The Textbook of Emergency Cardiovascular Care and CPR - By John M. Field, Peter J. Kudenchuk, Robert O'Connor, Terry VandenHoe. 2009. Chapter 17 - Oxygen Administration and Supraglottic Airways: [Accessed 01.12.2017]

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