First Aid Needs Assessment

A first aid needs assessment should be conducted by youth work organisations to ascertain the first aid arrangements required for the programme as a whole or for each activity. When undertaking a first aid needs assessment the following considerations should be taken into account: 

  • Specific risk factors to include such as activity, venue, location & access, needs of the group/young people  
  • Who is trained and to what level 
  • Ratio of first aid trained workers to young people 
  • First aid kit contents and equipment 
  • Any relevant third party first aid arrangements: i.e. external venue or event staff, equipment and/or facilities 
  • Practical management of first aid kits including access and replenishment 

First aid trained workers 

The first aid needs assessment will help to determine the appropriate level of training required for workers. As a minimum, the law requires organisations to ensure access to a first aid kit and to ensure there is a dedicated member of staff, defined as an ‘appointed person’, who would take charge in the event of a first aid incident and call an ambulance if necessary.   

If the first aid needs assessment identifies that a worker with a first aid qualification is unnecessary and that an appointed person alone is sufficient, this should be documented in the risk assessment and justified. However, the first aid needs assessment specific to any youth programme may identify requirements that are beyond the minimum.    

If a first aid trained worker (first aider) is required, the training they hold or undertake should be suitable to the risk. The first aid courses below are recognised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and are appropriate for lower risk settings:  

  • Emergency first aid at work (EFAW): typically a one-day course, participants are qualified to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill 
  • First aid at work (FAW): typically a three-day course, participants are qualified to EFAW level, plus are able to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illnesses. 

Higher risk settings, activities or the likelihood of complex participant needs may result in the requirement for an increased level of training, which may be met by internal workers or by external providers. A variety of courses are available, including some more specialist ones for outdoor and adventurous activities which may be applicable.  

Training courses are typically valid for a period of three years and it is important to ensure first aiders maintain a valid and current certification via regular refresher training.  

Training providers 

Youth work organisations are responsible for ensuring that whoever trains their workers in first aid is competent to do so. 

There are four types of provider to choose from and they offer: 

  • regulated qualifications from an awarding organisation (AO) – these are recognised and regulated by Ofqual, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) or the Welsh Government, as applicable 
  • voluntary approval schemes, such as a trade body accredited by a third party – the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the national accreditation body recognised by government 
  • independent training where the provider can prove their competence 
  • training from one of the three Voluntary Aid Societies recognised by the government: 
  • St John Ambulance 
  • British Red Cross 
  • St Andrew’s First Aid 

Required ratios of first aiders 

Determining the number of first aiders required is influenced by the level of risk associated with the activity, the programme and any additional needs of the group or individual(s) such as requirements outlined in any individual care plans

Youth work organisations should ensure a first aid needs assessment is conducted by a competent person and that the associated decisions are documented to specify the ratios of first aiders and levels of training and equipment required for each distinct element of the programme or service. 

The needs assessment should be regularly reviewed and greater levels of first aid provision introduced if any additional risk factors are identified. 

First aiders should always be readily available and accessible to groups and appointed persons.  

Specialist external expertise may be required for higher risk settings or activities if: 

  • specialist skills, rescue or emergency access equipment is needed  
  • young people require specific medical needs including a specific care plan involving first aid and/or personal emergency plans 
  • ambulance response times and emergency access is longer or more difficult than would normally be the case in the group or individual’s home or educational setting 

First aid kit contents 

The required contents and size of first aid kits that workers should carry and/or have access to on  youth programmes or services will be informed by the first aid needs assessment.  

British Standard 8599-1:2019 provides a specification for the contents of workplace first aid kits. The tables below provide guidance information for appropriate first aid kit contents for activities taking place in workplace settings.  

Note: the information provided is a guide only and first aid needs assessments should inform the required contents and quantities of first aid kits.  

In addition to basic workplace kits, BS8599-1 also provides guidance on personal issue kits suitable for any lone workers plus critical injury packs containing advanced first aid products designed to treat life threatening injuries.  

First aid kits compliant with guidance provided in BS8599-1:2019 are readily available from retailers.  

Maintaining or replacing contents of a first aid kit 

First aid kits need to be checked regularly to ensure they are restocked after usage, and to ensure the contents remain in date and fit for purpose. Sterile items are usually marked with expiry dates and should be replaced after expiry and disposed of safely. Non-sterile items without expiry dates should also be checked to ensure they remain fit for purpose. 

Covid-19 & first aid 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published useful guidance on how to ensure you and your first aiders are prepared if an incident occurs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The guidance can be found here and provides information on keeping the first aider safe, what to do if CPR is needed and the correct use / wearing of PPE (personal protective equipment). 

The Resuscitation Council UK has also published guidance regarding CPR during the pandemic and currently recommends that no rescue breaths are used.   

Please note that both HSE and Resuscitation Council guidelines are subject to change and youth work organisations should ensure that they remain up to date with current guidance.  

Whilst COVID-19 continues to pose a risk, it is advisable to include basic infection control items in first aid kits. Suggested items may include: 

  • Sanitiser hand gel of Government approved specification/alcohol content 
  • Thermometer: infrared, or ear temp with single use ear probe covers 
  • Gloves 
  • Face masks 
  • Biohazard bag for disposal 
  • Disinfectant wipes 

Use of external venue or third party provider first aid kits 

Where youth work organisations have hired a venue but are directly responsible for the delivery of programme activity, they should provide their own first aid kits and be wary of relying on first aid kits provided by the venue. Venue kits may often only be sufficient for use by venue staff, not by venue users and may not always be readily available when required. If organisations do intend to use venue first aid kits they should be checked in advance as part of the risk assessment to ensure they are appropriately stocked and readily accessible.  

Where third party providers are directly responsible for activity delivery (outdoor adventurous activity for example) it is reasonable for youth work organisations to expect activity providers to have more extensive and specialist first aid provision in place. However, workers should have access to first aid kits to cover minor first aid requirements during travel to and from activities or during periods where the activity provider staff are not directly responsible for the session, i.e. downtime between structured sessions.  

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