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What does a First Aid Officer actually do?

By law, every Victorian workplace has to have a least one trained First Aid Officer on staff.

But what does that mean and what are their responsibilities? Well that largely depends on the size of the workplace. OHS laws mandate the minimum of one trained First Aid Officer in any workplace. (However, in order to ensure that there is ALWAYS a minimum of one trained First Aid Officer on duty, most workplaces have to train 3 people for this role in order to ensure they cover meal breaks, annual leave, sick leave and long service leave, etc). In most cases the designated First Aid Officer is likely to only have to deal with very minor first aid issues - cuts, bruises, sprains, etc.

However, in larger workplaces, with more than 10 employees or if the workplace is defined as particularly dangerous, the role of a designated First Aid Officer can be more complex, challenging and involve a lot more work.

Firstly, in all sized workplaces, the First Aid Officer must at all times keep their own first aid training valid and up to date. That means they must have done a fully accredited course in First Aid and CPR and have a valid certificate for it.

Equally important is that the First Aid Officer is responsible for the first aid kits in the business. They must know the precise location of any and every first aid kit in the workplace. And they must ensure the first aid kits are kept properly stocked with all the essential supplies required such as wound dressings, slings, disinfectants, etc

When accidents or incidents do occur, the designated First Aid Officer must:

- Assess the patient’s condition and identify the correct first aid solutions

- Correctly apply the correct first aid solutions

- Call for any appropriate assistance, including ambulance or medical staff

- Keep the injured person calm at all times and reassure them

After the accident or incident they are obliged to clearly assess what happened and report to management on any recommendations they have to ensure such an event does not happen again. (As an aside, the designated First Aid Officer in a business should also play an active role in identifying hazards and risks in the workplace and work with any appropriate other team members to reduce and/or control them.)

It is assumed that a First Aid Officer would have a number of personal qualities that would make them suitable for the role including:

- Having a good understanding of their role when an incident or accident occurs

- Be able to deliver first aid processes and techniques in a calm and professional manner

- Be physically capable of performing critical first aid techniques such as CPR and resuscitation

- Have an adequate awareness of their own and others well-being.

Sadly Australia has one of the lowest rates of trained First Aid Officers in the world, at only 5%. If you think you might qualify, is it time to step up and take more responsibility? We can help train you to be your best and have the satisfaction of knowing you are there for your workmates if the need arises.


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