Our office recently received a phone call from a low-risk office client. As this call came from an office client, in the workplace they rarely deal with first aid calls. However, a few weeks ago an employee experienced a scenario, was white-faced, light-headed and fainted. Then things went sideways. The co-workers who witnessed the episode panicked, did not remember company first aid protocol and in error left the patient alone.  Neither co-worker picked up the phone to call the company first aid attendant. Instead, each went looking for the attendant, and as a result, the patient was alone for up to 5 minutes. When the attendant arrived on site with the SOS oxygen unit and first aid kit, he/she directed a staff member to call 911. However, additional time was lost as the first aid room (where the oxygen unit and kit were kept) were in the opposite direction of the first aid scenario. The staff member that was asked to call 911  froze – this occurred two more times. Several more response minutes were lost. Finally, a co-worker responded and left the area to call 911. However, the caller now had “no eyes” on the scenario and was unable to answer questions that the 911 operator was asking.  In addition, the employee on the phone with 911 did not know or couldn’t remember the address of the building.

After de-briefing the client, I reassured them that the response from staff was not uncommon and there were a three simple things that could be put in place in the workplace to improve the response to future first aid scenarios.

  1. Once a month practice first aid scenarios with staff. Ex. simply have a co-worker lie on the floor and have other staff members practicing calling the first aid attendant and 911. Walk through the steps on a regular basis so the responses become second nature
  2. In addition to having a SOS oxygen unit in the first aid room, it is beneficial for the first aid attendant to have one and a first aid kit as his/her desk, so that they have the required equipment to respond quickly
  3. Label each phone in the workplace with at minimum the address and phone number of the workplace; if there is more room list the workplace first aid protocol