After looking at a few of the responses I've had after remarking on the weakness of qualified first aiders in their capacity to do anything of any value, I've decided to run the debate as a post, instead of responding to comments.
You may or may not know (or have any interest in it) but I've been teaching qualified first aiders for more than fifteen years and run a fairly successful little company, training people all over the UK. I consider myself an expert on the subject and fully understand the legal capacity in which workplace first aiders are supposed to operate.
Unfortunately, a lot employers dont give a toss about this and only train their employees because they have to. They dont care that the training they receive may be inadequate, amateur or dangerous and they dont care whether those chosen to do the training actually make any difference to the work environment. Of course, many other employers dont even bother with any training because the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which is the legal governing body in this country, has no teeth and very little time or manpower to seek out and punish them. You have a much, much higher chance of getting caught without a TV licence than without a properly trained person who can potentially save the life of a colleague.
Ive been teaching to a high standard all of my career and simply wont drop them; this has cost me a few contracts, I can tell you. Some of the biggest companies out there are so hell bent on not allowing their employees to have the responsibility and power that goes with their qualification, that they obstruct any attempt to teach the rule of law. This goes on in some schools too - the first aiders are frequently over-ruled by their superiors and one school in particular just would not have me telling them that storing prescription-only medicines on site when the children weren't there was potentially illegal (look at the medicines act) - it seems some people just don't want the facts.
My company teaches in around 100 schools a year. The market is dominated by the voluntray services, particularly The Red Cross and the St. Johns Ambulance (SJA) and I've come across some incredible pieces of advice given to those in charge of our little ones; 'dont put a plaster on a cut', for example - almost as if that is illegal. It's not and never has been. There never, ever was a rule against it. Also, the 'don't take a splinter out of a child's finger' (or any part of them presumably) because that's an assualt, based on the premise that it is an invasive procedure! Think about it, these people (teachers and school staff) are in loco parentis; they can do whatever a reasonable parent might do and I'm pretty damned sure a reasonable parent would remove a splinter and not bother calling 999 or taking the child to A&E!
I'm not having a dig at one organisation or another and I'm sure that as I found my feet in training all those years ago, I wasn't perfect BUT this is ludicrous.
Schools are now being told that they must only accept training from OFSTED's approved list - ironic because the HSE is responsible for approving companies, nobody else. However, they want to regulate the paediatric side of training (not covered by HSE - yet) and this has led, in my opinion, to the downfall of a legal requirement that ensures they have adequate first aid cover for staff. A school that wishes to comply and get a good OFSTED report will need to send their people out to do a 2 day (twelve hour) course. The cost of this is astronomical (around £50 to £100 per head) and the value of what they actually learn and retain is debatable. Even people with a full 4 day's training and who are 'qualified' can turn out to be inadequate when it comes to the crunch, simply because of the quality of their lessons, the information (such as the drivel I highlighted above) given and the poor retention of skills and knowledge over the 3 years that they must have them (no practise, you see). It appears that many training organisations are so busy telling first aiders what they can't do that the whole point of them being trained at all rides off into the mist.
All of this may mean nothing to you but it makes our jobs difficult sometimes, as you know from my recent posts, and it smacks of someone, somewhere making millions for a low standard of training - in schools and elsewhere.
A qualified first aider is legally responsible for the emergency care of colleagues in the workplace. He or she must carry out their skills responsibly and with a degree of competency in order to potentially save a life and prevent loss of earnings (for employer and employee) through unnecessary sickness. This isn't happening and across the country you will see glaring examples of ignorance and apathy. Companies who have no first aider on duty are breaking the law and some of the biggest culprits are the biggest companies. If you have an accident in one of their premises and find this out, sue the arse off them, they deserve the punishment for their complacency (legally they dont have to take care of visitors to their site but they still have a duty of care, so they will settle out of court through fear).
First aiders who sat through their course yawning and whining about how hard it was, should not be doing the job. They had a choice not to be on the course in the first place; they just didn't know it because their boss bullied them into doing it.
If you are a qualified first aider in the workplace, get your act together if you haven't already because you will get caught out and it will be someone's father, mother, sister or brother who pays the price for your reluctance to practise and take seriously your role. Do a little reading up every month; pretend to resuscitate something - anything. Carry out the recovery position and get that damned elevation sling that you are useless at, right!
For those of you that know what you are doing (and I've met many of you), well done and be proud. First aid training is essential because it removes the fear and ignorance of taking care of others. Our ambulance services are in a mess because our kids know nothing of it and will simply pass the buck to a 999 call on the basis that they 'didn't know what else to do'.
In the public domain, there is no legal duty of care for you - its a matter of human principle to help people in trouble or get stuck in and do your best. You cannot be sued for trying to save someone unless you attempt to do it by methods that you are untrained in.
Whatever you feel about this subject, this is my personal opinion, but it is based on almost two decades of experience, learning and teaching.
I'm bored now.... your turn!