Michael Jordan can shoot free throws with his eyes closed. Elton John can recreate piano tunes after hearing them only once. Rachael Ray can present a gourmet dish from leftovers. Does that mean these masters of their trade have no need to practice their skills? Absolutely not. Routine training makes people in all trades and all skill levels more confident and efficient during actual situations. The same applies to first aid responders and the effectiveness of emergency response plans.
According to the American Heart Association, 475,000 Americans die each year from cardiac arrest, which is more deaths than those from colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, influenza, pneumonia, auto accidents, HIV, firearms, and house fires combined. When administered immediate CPR, 45% of victims who experienced cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survived. There is no doubt that CPR is effective. However, those trained in life saving skills must feel prepared and confident enough to perform first aid in emergency situations.
Confusion during an emergency situation only presents more risks to an already tense and delicate situation. Therefore, waiting for a crisis to occur is no way to find out if your work site is prepared for an emergency. It would likely be too late. Effectively manage a crisis situation with an emergency action plan and routinely train employees to the plan to ensure response actions are habitual and intrinsic.
Elsie Bentley, Vice President of Safety, Health and Environmental at PLH Group– a leading, full service electric power line construction, pipeline construction and specialty utility contractor serving North America’s electric power line, pipeline, oil field electrical and industrial markets– says, “We routinely train our employees in first aid and emergency response so they know what to do if an emergency incident occurs.”
Employees should feel prepared in work site emergency response to correctly and confidently act if an incident occurs. The best way to instill this confidence throughout the work site and to reduce response time is through consistent training and routine drills. When gaps in first aid and emergency response training are identified, action must then be taken to close the gaps through additional training or first aid resources.
Specific considerations to address in training and drills include:
First Aid Responders. Are workers trained in first aid easily identifiable and accessed? Are their certifications up-to-date? For employees already trained in first aid, the Red Cross’s first aid app provides detailed information for specific scenarios. The step-by-step instructions can ease a responder’s mind during a crisis situation.
First Aid Kits, Eye Wash Stations, Drench Showers. Are first aid tools and resources conveniently located, easily accessible, proficiently stocked, and routinely maintained? Remember, employees may be accessing these resources amidst an injury, so they should be as accessible as possible.
Call For Help. How should workers access a phone to call for help? How can workers easily find the office or work site address?
Safety Data Sheets and Other Emergency Documentation. Do employees know where to find these documents? Are they easy to read and understand?
Fire Extinguishers and Pull Alarms. Where are these emergency tools located? When should employees attempt to use a fire extinguisher versus pulling an alarm and immediately evacuating the building?
One time training of employees on emergency response is not enough. It must be routinely practiced and discussed to establish the confidence needed to act in these situations. Training now ensures safety later.