Will You be a ‘Flu Fighter?

We know it’s autumn when the weather turns cold and wet and doctors start urging us to be prepared for winter. This year is no different.

The annual drive to vaccinate the vulnerable against flu has commenced today. Are you planning on getting your flu jab and if not why not?

True ‘flu (influenza) as opposed to a cold, is a very unpleasant illness, especially for those that are vulnerable: the elderly, they very young, pregnant women and those with pre existing illnesses such as asthma and diabetes. It is extremely contagious. For these individuals the risk of developing complications such as pneumonia is significantly higher than those who are not so vulnerable. Those who are are front line health care workers are also at risk of both catching the disease and passing it on to others.

Each year many are admitted to hospital with the condition and it can take a while to fully recover. We forget that ‘flu can kill.

This year for the first time, four year olds are being offered the vaccine along with two and three year olds, as a means of combating the spread of the disease. If you’re worried about giving a child an injection, it is given as a nasal spray for young children.

The chief medical officer for Britain is urging all those who are offered the injection to visit their GP practice early in the season to ensure that they are fully protected as winter approaches.

For more information see:


World Heart Day 2014

Today is World Heart Day. This is an international campaign designed to raise the awareness of heart disease and to think about ways in which both heart disease and strokes can be prevented.
A poll of 2000 people conducted by the British Heart Foundation suggests that people are more worried about contracting cancer or dementia than worrying about heart disease. However heart disease is a big killer, one person dies every 7 minutes from heart disease and in many cases the disease could be prevented.  Risk factors include amongst others,  high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.  Prevention of heart disease is key, and it’s never too late to make changes.

So make today the day you decide to give up smoking, lose weight and make changes to your diet to minimize those risks. In addition make today the day you choose to learn to save a life by learning CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

At least 60 000 people suffer an out of hospital cardiac arrest each year and survival from this remains poor. Without access to defibrilllation and good quality CPR, only 2-12% survive. Access to a defibrillator, within the first few moments of a cardiac arrest can improve survival by up to 74 %.
CPR  techniques are now easier than they have ever been and the proliferation of public access defibrillators means more people have the opportunity to survive cardiac arrests than before, however greater awareness needs to be made of this and more need to sign up to learn these essential life saving skills and not be afraid to use a defibrillator. The machines are easy to use, they talk you through the process, step by step and cannot cause any further harm.
For more details take a look at our defibrillator faq page which will tell you more about defibs, how they work and how you use them.
For details on joining a first aid class to learn CPR take a look at our range of workplace first aid courses where you can learn your skills and qualify to be a workplace first aider.

Emergency Salbutamol Inhalers in Schools

Good news for schools!

New regulations have just been issued regarding the use of reliever asthma inhalers in schools.

From 1st October 2014 the Human Medicines (Amendment) (No2) Regulations 2014 will allow schools to hold a spare emergency asthma inhaler for use in emergencies.

These inhalers can only be used by children for whom parental consent has already been given to use an emergency inhaler and who normally carry an inhaler to school as they have been diagnosed with asthma or have been prescribed a reliever inhaler.
It can be used if the pupils prescribed inhaler is not available (for example because it is empty or broken).

Head teachers can purchase the salbutamol inhalers for the treatment of acute asthma attacks from pharmaceutical suppliers. Suppliers will need a signed request from the head stating the quantity of inhalers required and for what purpose. They will also need to purchase spare spacer devices to help administer the drug.

For full information see the Government’s Guidance Document on the Use of Emergency Inhalers in Schools

A New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year to you all.

So I hope that Christmas went well for everybody and that you have now made some New Year Resolutions for 2014.

Yes I know, the old ones trot out each year: lose weight, go to the gym more often, be more organised, tidy out the office/loft and three weeks into the New Year they get abandoned!

It’s a strange time of year really, still winter and cold out there but with a promise of spring around the corner. It is a good time to sort out things and get ready for the year ahead.

When I tell people what I do for  a living,  most say that’s a really good thing to do and that everyone should learn first aid. It is after all a life skill that most would agree ought to be taught form a fairly young age.

We all know illnesses and accidents happen to friends and families, and are often caught out when they happen.  There is nothing more awful, than standing by, feeling helpless, when a loved one is taken ill suddenly or becomes injured.

Wouldn’t it be good if you had the knowledge and confidence to be able to help?

I hope that this year you will take the time to add another skill to the list of Resolutions.  Make 2014 the year that you learn some first aid. You never know when you might need it!

At the very least when reviewing everything else, check your kit is up to date and fully stocked. If you last did a first aid course when you were a cub or brownie, it’s probably about time you went on another one as things change rather often.

First aid courses are not expensive, a day or three of your time  is all it takes and may make all the difference and help save the life of someone you love. What better way to start the New Year?

Image with thanks to christmasstockimages.com.


Give your A&E a miss this Christmas!

Christmas is nearly upon us again; that annual consumer festival of last minute frenzied shopping, trying to find a gift for aged grandparents and small toddlers, standing in huge queues in supermarkets, worrying about whether you have enough food and drink in the house, wrestling with stuffing and turkeys etc.

I sound very cynical, but really I love Christmas: the decorations, the smell of pine trees, mulled wine and cinnamon. There is something delightful about seeing the excitement on small children’s faces as they count down the sleeps till Father Christmas arrives.

You might therefore be surprised to learn that amongst all the jollity and goodwill, Christmas heralds a wealth of opportunities to injure oneself in the comfort of your own home.

Each year hundreds of people are injured over the festive season and the home appears to be one of the most dangerous places to be.
Injuries include those caused by:
Kitchens – cuts from carving the turkey, burns from hot fat, poisoning from undercooked food and buffets that have been left out all day
Choking – at least one person a year chokes on their turkey!
Slips, trips and falls as we clamber over piles of toys etc
Stairs – from clutter left on them, and falling down them in new slippers or after too much alcohol
Decorations – fairy lights can cause house fires – 47 house fires were caused last year by decorations
Presents – cuts to hands and fingers are common as people take knives and scissors to open plastic packaging
Alcohol – drink driving, falls,drinking to excess.
Sometimes it seems that the stress of trying to achieve the “Perfect Christmas” ensures that by the time the day comes around we are all exhausted with fraying tempers. When tiredness, alcohol and the strains of having extra guests get on top of us, accidents are more likely to occur.
Your Local A&E

The NHS and A&E units across the country are creaking at the seams and at this time of year units are particularly busy dealing with the illnesses and accidents that winter brings, the slips, trips and falls caused by ice and the usual rounds of ‘flu and winter vomiting.

Not all injuries need to be seen in A&E, so unless you really need it, give your local A&E a miss this Christmas. Walk in centres and GP surgeries can deal with many things and 999/112 should only be reserved for true Emergencies such as choking, heart attacks, strokes and broken bones.

Many minor injuries can be dealt with by applying a good dose of common sense and basic first aid. Please think before you dial 999, “is this really an emergency or can I deal with it, or would a walk in centre be better?”

Make sure you have adequate supplies of any of your usual medications as a walk in centres will not be able to issue repeat prescriptions. Stock up on basic over the counter remedies to deal with minor aches and pains etc.

Above all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Don’t let your organisation become a statistic

HSE Health and Safety Statistics 2012/2013

Health and safety is often given a hard press as it can be used as an excuse for preventing staff, customers and those in an organisation’s care from doing certain activities.

Think about bans on playing conkers, wearing glasses on bouncy castles, and more topically, workers being banned from putting up Christmas decorations around their desks.  In some cases, there may be good reasons for restrictions, but H&S is often used to mask the real thinking behind them.

However Health and Safety regulations do serve a useful purpose, and this is borne out when you review the accident statistics for the UK.

Despite a host of rules and regulations being in place an astonishing number of people become injured or are taken suddenly unwell whilst at work each year. Recent statistics from the HSE for the reporting year 2012 / 2013 show that during the year:

  • 148 were killed at work
  • 78,000 other injuries to employees were reported to RIDDOR
  • 175,000 over 7-day absence injuries occurred
  • 27 million working days were lost due to work related-related illness  and accidents

(source HSE annual statistics 2012/2013)

Obviously this costs both in the financial sense as well as the loss, pain, injury and discomfort for the individuals involved and their families.

Carrying out a thorough risk assessment, and putting in place the resultant safety measures, robust procedures and well trained first aiders is of paramount importance. In the event of an emergency you want to know that there are people around who can confidently help until the emergency services arrive.

As the New Year approaches you should be doing the following:

  1. Reviewing your risk assessments in light of changes to your organisation over the last 12 months
  2. Updating your first aid needs analysis to see whether your working practices / employees have changed
  3. Reviewing your first aid procedures
  4. Assessing whether you  have adequate numbers of first aiders to cover shifts/different buildings/annual leave etc
  5. Considering whether having a defibrillator on site might be of benefit to your workforce
  6. Checking that your first aid kits are correctly stocked, with in-date contents
  7. Checking whether your first aiders up to date with their qualifications and whether they are confident that they could deal with an emergency