Advice for First Aiders during COVID-19 Pandemic


Prepared/reviewed by: James Hall, Frank Fletcher, Laura Davis
Purpose:Inform on First Aid best practice during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
To be read by:Operations Manager, all team members and volunteers, Trust Leads and Skippers before any activity.
Also refer to:N/A
Last updated:Friday 10 June 2021


This guidance, provided by St Johns Ambulance, is fit for purpose for Trust use. As a first aider, in addition to high quality clinical skills, to be effective you need to:

  1. Be aware of the risks to yourself and others
  2. Keep yourself safe
  3. Give early treatment
  4. Keep yourself informed and updated
  5. Remember your own needs

In the current COVID climate, these skills become even more important. Here is how you can apply these skills when managing a first aid incident.


Be aware of the risks to yourself and others

When approaching a casualty there is always a risk of cross contamination – especially when you may have to get close to them to assess what is wrong or to check their breathing. It is always important to be aware of the risks of how this cross contamination has occurred. According to NHS 111, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person-to-person, but similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

Keep yourself safe

In line with government advice, make sure you wash your hands or use an alcohol gel, before and after treating a casualty also ensure that you don’t cough or sneeze over a casualty when you are treating them. The Resuscitation Council (UK) provides some useful advice of how to keep yourself safe when providing CPR (See appendix 1)

Don’t lose sight of other cross contamination that could occur not related to COVID-19 too.

Give early treatment

The vast majority of incidents do not involve you getting close to a casualty where you would come into contact with cough droplets. Sensible precautions will ensure you are able to treat a casualty effectively.

Keep yourself informed and updated

As this is a new disease this is an ever-changing situation, and the government and NHS are continually updating their advice. Make sure you regularly review the NHS 111 or website which has a specific section on Coronavirus.

Remember your own needs

These are challenging and uncertain times. COVID-19 has meant a lot of upheaval and worry for people. To help others you will also need to look after your own needs. Make sure you take time to talk about your fears and concerns with someone you trust and to take out time to look after yourself.


CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It combines chest compressions and rescue breaths to give a person the best chance of survival following a cardiac arrest. The guidance has been updated due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If the casualty…

If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you still need to call 999 or 112 for emergency help and start CPR straight away.

For more information on CPR during the COVID-19, visit the Resuscitation Council website.

What to do

How to do CPR

Continue to perform CPR until...

If the casualty shows signs of becoming responsive such as coughing, opening eyes, speaking, and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position. Monitor their level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary. If you have used a defibrillator, leave it attached.



Resuscitation Council UK Statement on COVID 19 in relation to CPR and resuscitation in first aid and community settings

This statement is for anyone performing CPR/defibrillation in an out-of-hospital setting.

Whenever CPR is carried out, particularly on an unknown victim, there is some risk of cross infection, associated particularly with giving rescue breaths. Normally, this risk is very small and is set against the inevitability that a person in cardiac arrest will die if no assistance is given. The first things to do are shout for help and dial 999.

What to do in an emergency:

Because of the heightened awareness of the possibility that the victim may have COVID-19, Resuscitation Council UK offers this advice:

Paediatric advice (someone under the age of 12 will be defined as a child for the purpose of these guidelines)

We are aware that paediatric cardiac arrest is unlikely to be caused by a cardiac problem and is more likely to be a respiratory one, making ventilations crucial to the child’s chances of survival. But, for those not trained in paediatric resuscitation, the most important thing is to act quickly to ensure the child gets the treatment they need in the critical situation.

For out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the importance of calling an ambulance and taking immediate action cannot be stressed highly enough. If a child is not breathing normally and no actions are taken, their heart will stop, and full cardiac arrest will occur. Therefore, if there is any doubt about what to do, this statement should be used.

It is likely the child/infant having an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest will be known to you. We accept that doing rescue breaths will increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus, either to the rescuer or the child/infant. But this risk is small compared to the risk of taking no action as this will result in certain cardiac arrest and death.

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