ABSTRACT: These days a business of virtually any size needs a website to be able to trade. Consumers are using the web as their first port of call for information and service this is becoming increasingly true for local services. Whereas consumers' previous instincts were to reach for the Yellow Pages, they now reach for their computer and head to Google. To compete and succeed in this environment, you have to be there when they start looking. Even a client, who knows who you are and has visited before, increasingly uses the web to find your opening hours and telephone number.

The priorities of a first-aider are to quickly and calmly assess a situation and to protect yourself and your casualties by ensuring you do not put yourself at risk. This includes aiming to prevent cross¬infection as much as possible. Comforting and reassuring people with injuries is important and can help you to assess the condition affecting them and enable you to give early treatment to those with the most serious problems. If serious injury or illness is suspected, a first-aider should always call 999/112 for emergency help or arrange for the patient to be sent to hospital.

By law, all workplaces must comply with current Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations, 1981 which require them to have adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and staff to enable first aid to be given at work. All workplaces need to abide by these regulations and, additionally, veterinary practices should check the rules of any regulating bodies or affiliations related to their profession. Employers have to carry out a risk assessment and put into operation appropriate measures to keep employees safe and provide enough competent people to administer first aid. Depending on the size of the workplace and the number of people in the veterinary practice, first aid provision needs to be available in the building at all times it is in use. The larger the workplace, the higher the number of first aiders required.

Courses such as St John Ambulances ‘Emergency First Aid at Work’ or ‘First Aid at Work’ (both HSE approved) cover the practical skills needed by a first-aider in the modern workplace (Figure 1). They give staff the confidence and knowledge to deal with first aid emergencies, including resuscitation (Figure 2) and training in using a first aid kit. The ‘Risk Assessment’ course is designed to give staff the skills to assess risks within their workplace and to give them a British Safety Council Level 2 certificate in risk assessment.

Figure 1: St John Ambulance courses cover the practical skills needed by a first-aider in the modern workplace

Figure 2: Staff need confidence and knowledge to deal with first aid emergencies, including resuscitation


All workplace incidents and accidents that require first aid treatment need to be reported; and any serious injuries or dangerous occurrences, such as falling masonry, require a RIDDOR report to be submitted to the HSE. A full list of reportable incidents and further guidance can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/riddor.

First aid advice

Animal bites

Animal bites can cause deep puncture wounds that not only damage tissues but also introduce infective organisms, such as Clostridium tetani (tetanus), to the wound. If bleeding is severe, then the priority will be to control the bleeding, this can be done by:

   direct pressure (Figure 3)

Figure 3: Bleeding can be controlled by using direct pressure

   elevation of the affected part (Figure 4)

Figure 4: Elevating the injured part above the heart can help to slow the flow of blood to the wound

   application of a sterile dressing

   seek additional medical help.

If the wound is minor:

   thoroughly wash it with soap and warm water (to reduce the risk of infection)

   ‘pat’ the wound dry, with clean swabs, whist elevating the injury

   cover with a sterile dressing

   seek additional medical help.


The most common cause of shock is severe blood loss, either from external bleeding or from bleeding internal organs. Loss of other body fluids can also result in shock, as can low blood sugar level or a severe allergic reaction. Basic principles are:

   Treat any possible cause of shock that you can detect, such as severe bleeding. Reassure the casualty.

   Help them to lie down – on a rug or blanket, as this will protect him or her from the cold. Raise and support their legs above the level of their heart to improve blood supply to the vital organs. Keeping their head low may prevent them from losing consciousness. Stop them from making any unnecessary movements (Figure 5).

Figure 5: If the injury allows, laying the casualty down and raising their legs will help control shock by improving the flow of blood to the brain

   Loosen tight clothing at the neck, chest and waist to reduce constriction.

   Keep the casualty warm by covering their body and legs with coats or blankets. Call 999/112 for emergency help.

   Monitor and record vital signs – level of response, breathing and pulse – while waiting for help to arrive.

‘Needle-stick’ injuries

When needle-stick injuries occur, it is normally recommended that the immediate treatment is to encourage bleeding and to wash the wound in warm running water with soap. This, however, is only an immediate treatment. More long-term treatment and support may be needed (depending on the nature of the syringe/ needle co
ntent) and once a needle-stick injury has taken place, immediate medical treatment should be offered to the employee.

Back pain

If you know you have a chronic condition, such as a slipped disc, follow the advice given by your medical practitioner, which may include encouragement to stay active to mobilise the injured area.

Lower back pain is common and may be acute (sudden onset) or chronic (long¬term). It may be the result of heavy manual work, a fall or a turning or twisting movement.

Acute injuries of the back can have serious consequences and employees immobilised by sudden onset back pain whilst at work should be treated with great care and medical advice sought immediately.

Where to find out more

For information about St John Ambulance and its range of available first aid courses, call 0844 770 4800 or visit www.sja.org.uk

The First Aid Manual (£13.99) is published by Dorling Kindersley, the Revised 9th edition is a comprehensive guide to treating casualties of all ages in any emergency.

To purchase a copy, visit www.stjohnsupplies.co.uk or call 020 7278 7888. Please note that the manual is no substitute for taking a first aid course.

There is also useful information from the Health and Safety Executive, http://www.hse.gov.uk


Clive James

Clive James is the training development manager at St John Ambulance. He worked for the London Ambulance Service as a qualified ambulance technician for 10 years before working for the nation's leading first aid charity, although he has volunteered for St John Ambulance for 35 years.

To cite this article use either

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2011.00076.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 26 pp 289-290


• VOL 26 • August 2011 • Veterinary Nursing Journal