First response Featured

9:58am EDT July 22, 2002

Workplace safety is often something that isn’t given too much thought in an office or other nonmanufacturing environment. But what would happen if, for instance, a large storage shelf fell on someone? Would you know what to do? Would any of the employees?

Even something as simple as a first aid kit or emergency medical form are often missing from many businesses. The key to preventing a minor injury from becoming a major one—or even saving a life—is being prepared.

“Consider ahead of time where a noncritically injured person will be taken,” says Betsy Lampe, a retired paramedic and EMT instructor. “Do not focus on the price of services, but focus instead on quality of care and qualifications of the staff. Ask if the ER physician is an emergency specialist or a gynecologist ‘filling in.’”

Write that choice of care facility into the company policy, however informal.

Know that critically injured or ill people need emergency care from paramedics. Do not try to transport a person by car.

“Be sure you know how to describe your physical location to the dispatcher,” notes Lampe. “Make sure someone is outside to guide the paramedics in. Make sure all items which might block a stretcher are removed before the ambulance arrives. Do not move the injured person.”

One office person should be sent, at company expense, through the Red Cross first responder course or the American Heart Association basic life support course. This person should accompany any injured persons to the emergency or outpatient care facility. Another person should be in charge of contacting the injured person’s family—and making sure you have this contact information before an emergency happens.

A form should include basic information that the emergency care facility can use to fill out the person’s chart. Remember to include notes about medications and allergies, along with the family physician’s name and number.

An incident report form should also be on hand to document the details of the accident for workers’ compensation and insurance purposes. Your insurance company or workers’ compensation office can provide you with this form or make suggestions as to what information should be included.

Simple preparedness can help reduce workers’ compensation claims when it includes regular loss prevention such as keeping aisles/floors clear of clutter to prevent trips and falls; doing wet work on floors after hours; scheduling frequent breaks for those who do repetitive tasks; insisting on a dress code that promotes safety; and teaching body mechanics to those who must lift or do heavy work.

First aid kit contents

A first aid kit is inexpensive and the first step toward being prepared. Don’t use the prepackaged kind of first aid kit; instead, assemble your own. Use a fishing tackle box or plastic document box and fill it with the following:

  • Assorted sizes of bandages (3M’s clean seals recommended)

  • Antibiotic ointment

  • Gauze wrap (three to four inches wide and several feet long)

  • Four- inch nonstick pads

  • A one-foot section of one by four inch board

  • Standard size arm sling

  • Thermometer

  • Betadine or other wound-cleaning solution

  • Heavy duty scissors

  • Blood pressure cuff

  • Oral glucose

  • Various medications—aspirin, antihistamines, antacids, etc.

  • Tape

  • Sterile saline solution

  • A right and left hand wrist splint

  • Quick reference first aid chart

  • Instant cold pack.

The person you put through the emergency course should be in charge of keeping this stocked and current.

Source: Betsy Lampe, retired paramedic and EMT instructor.