Is First Aid Enough?

The first question that needs to be addressed is whether basic First Aid, such as that provided by volunteer and charity organisations is enough for major events and venues around Australia. First Aid only encompasses Basic Life Support (or BLS), including very basic CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and the treatment of minor aches, pains, scratches, bruises and bleeding.

First aiders have a basic understanding of common medical emergencies and can only offer “first aid” which may be adequate under limited circumstances, but not for many Events. When an Event Organiser is planning an event and there are higher elements of risk, dictated by the event activities, a high level of Pre-Hospital Emergency Care is required, for example, an Onsite Medical Service, including CARE teams where indicated.

State Ambulances respond to public calls as a priority. Even in urban events/venues, State Ambulance services may be over 20 minutes away (especially given the traffic congestion accompanying such events) and so it is now appropriate to supply an onsite medical Service to respond and treat immediately while the Ambulance is on its way.

The EMS Service can respond within the event grounds utilising EMS Ambulances, other means of transport or on foot if the going is rough. They will be fully equipped and trained to treat the patient immediately to Advanced Life Support (ALS) standard.

Charitable organisations sometimes broadly generalise that “some of” their members are doctors, nurses or even paramedics” in their day to day jobs, but event and venue organisers are acutely conscious that there is never any guarantee that this standard of first aider will turn up on the day.

Regardless of the qualification of the responder, without emergency medications and advanced equipment, these responders are simply first aiders. In many cases witnessed by event organisers, one “senior” volunteer will supervise a large group of “cadets” or juniors. The usual feeling amongst venue/event managers is that the standard of care is actually quite low and seldom what was promised or envisaged.

Volunteer first aiders often boast of equipment such as defibrillators and oxygen systems (in many cases provided as a donation to their organisation by the public or government), but if their volunteers are not sufficiently trained or experienced in its use this equipment may be ineffective or even detrimental in their hands.

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